Parameters of Premack

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To use clicker training effectively, we must thoroughly understand what reinforcement means. Too often, we equate positive reinforcement with a piece of food. This works in many cases, but is useless when an animal is too full, frightened, or aroused to eat.

Many trainers talk about “life rewards,” those everyday goodies (e.g., the opportunity to go outside, sniff a tree or greet an approaching person) that can be used to reinforce desired behaviors. This approach is similar to the Premack Principle, named after researcher David Premack, but doesn’t fully take advantage of this important and under-utilized concept.

Kathy Sdao explains how this laboratory-derived theory can help you expand your motivational menu for training new behaviors and for managing behavioral problems. Discover novel techniques you can use to tap into the full power of clicker training, while being careful to avoid situations when the Premack Principle might create problems.

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.