Video on Demand by Karen Pryor Clicker Training |

Mark My Words

Does the core ethic “positive reinforcement works, and coercion is dangerous” include verbal behavior, the words you choose when you speak and write? Are you as force-free with clients and colleagues as you are with the animals in your care? Can the unconditional positive regard you have for furry and feathered animals extend to every man and woman you speak with? Even on social media? Even when you think that person is ignorant, cruel, or just plain wrong? And might your answers have any bearing on the high rate of burn-out in the training profession?

Training and behavior consulting work often takes place in emotionally charged situations. The stakes can be high, and clients may be upset, argumentative, or unpleasant. At times, these same characteristics describe colleagues and competitors as well. Even so, when you speak with challenging people, you can apply the core skills of careful observation, controlled emotionality, gradual shaping, and timely reinforcement of alternate behaviors.

In this Session, we will examine a specific format for compassionate communication. Should you choose to extend “do no harm” to include verbal behavior, we will discuss key practical changes to support your commitment.

Please note: This Session was recorded in 2019; content presented in 2020 may vary slightly. 

Kathy Sdao

Kathy Sdao is an applied animal behaviorist. She has spent more than 30 years as a fulltime animal trainer, first with marine mammals and now with dogs and their people. Kathy received a master’s degree in experimental psychology from the University of Hawaii. The United States Navy then hired her to train dolphins for open-ocean tasks. Kathy next worked as a marine-mammal trainer at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Later, Kathy co-created Tacoma’s first dog daycare facility, where she began teaching clicker training classes.

Since 1998, Kathy has owned Bright Spot Dog Training. Services include consulting with families about their challenging dogs, teaching private lessons, and mentoring professional trainers. Kathy is proud to be an original faculty member at Karen Pryor Clicker Training’s ClickerExpo conferences.

Kathy has traveled extensively across the United States, Canada, and Europe, and to Australia, Israel, Japan, and Mexico, educating students about the science of animal training. Her first book, Plenty in Life Is Free: Reflections on Dogs, Training and Finding Grace was published in 2012.