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by Kathy Sdao
What if the secret to great dog training is to be a frequent feeder rather than a strong leader? A skilled reinforcer rather than a strict enforcer?
Over the past two decades, countless dog trainers across the world have embraced the liberal use of positive reinforcement. However, often accompanying this trend is an underlying emphasis, inherited from more coercive models of dog training, that each human in the family must be the dog's leader. But by adopting the role of leader using what is known as the "Nothing in Life is Free" training protocol can result in stifling rules that constrain people's ability to share affection and attention with their dogs. This focus on human leadership puts the burden on dogs to earn their rewards rather than placing the primary responsibility on humans to be generous, precise, and creative feeders (i.e., reinforcers).
In this new book, renowned dog trainer Kathy Sdao reveals how her journey through life and her decades of experience training marine mammals and dogs led her to reject a number of sacred cows, including the leadership model of dog training. She describes in narrative fashion how she has focused her own training philosophy, which emphasizes developing partnerships where humans and dogs exchange reinforcements and cede the upper hand to one another continually.
"Kathy Sdao is as wise, witty, warm, and adventurous on paper as she is on the lecture platform. This is a wonderful book about an issue deep and dear to all of us: learning to be thoughtful, kind, and generous to our dogs, to each other, and to ourselves, in a world that pressures us to be harsh, resistant, and controlling instead." — Karen Pryor