Please Sir, May I Have Some Food, Water... and Control?

Ask any 3-year-old child what her eyes, ears, and legs are for and you will get a fast, accurate, gleeful answer: “To see, hear, and run!” But ask any adult, even one in the training field, what behavior is for, and you will get a deer-in-the-headlights look. The cultural fog that has us ignorant of the answer to this fundamental question accounts for many of the training failures we experience. Simply put, behavior is an evolved tool to control. Control what? Outcomes. In this presentation, control as a primary reinforcer and motivating operation will be discussed. By considering control in this light, we will better, and more confidently, provide animals with the opportunity to control their reinforcers, thereby improving their behavioral health.

Susan G. Friedman, PhD

Susan G. Friedman, PhD, is a professor emeritus in the Department of Psychology at Utah State University. She has helped pioneer the cross-species application of behavior analysis to animals, using the same humane philosophy and scientifically sound teaching technology that have been so effective with human learners.


Susan has co-authored chapters on behavior change in four veterinary texts, and her popular articles have been translated into 13 languages. She offers seminars on animal learning at conferences and zoos around the world, is a member of Karen Pryor Clicker Training’s ClickerExpo faculty, and teaches yearly hands-on animal training workshops with Steve Martin at Natural Encounters, Inc.

The Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the American Humane Association (AHA) Film and TV Unit, Susan is a member in good standing of ABAI, AZA, ABMA, IAABC and IAATE.

This year Susan was included on the Vet Tech College’s list of 15 Animal Professors to Know. Her acclaimed online course, Living and Learning with Animals for Behavior Professionals, has provided even wider dissemination of effective, humane, behavior-change practices to students in more than 30 countries.