Plenty in Life Is Free: Reflections on Dogs, Training and Finding Grace

Plenty in Life Is Free: Reflections on Dogs, Training and Finding Grace

by Kathy Sdao


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Feeder or Leader?

What if the secret to great dog training is to be an expert "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. Often accompanying this trend, however, is an underlying emphasis, inherited from more coercive models of dog training, that each human in the family must be the dog's leader. Adopting the role of leader through the use of "Nothing in Life is Free" training protocols, however, can result in stifling rules that constrain people's ability to share affection with their dogs. Strict reward-rationing regimens also tend to put the burden on dogs to "earn" all their privileges instead of placing the primary responsibility on the humans to be generous, precise, creative "feeders" (i.e., reinforces).

In this book, animal behaviorist Kathy Sdao reveals how her life's journey and her decades of training marine mammals and dogs have led her to move beyond the leadership model. She described how her training philosophy has evolved to focus on developing partnerships in which humans and dogs exchange reinforcements, continually ceding the upper hand to one another.

This book will amuse you and, at times, may make you want to cry. It also may arouse controversy among dog trainers. Regardless of whether you agree with its suggestions, this book will inspire you to reflect about the choices you make in relating to your own dogs.

What animal behavior experts are saying about plenty in Life is Free:

This extraordinary book fills the gap between contemporary training technology and ethics. With indelible wit and wisdom, Sdao exposes the naked emperor of excessive control and replaces him with the keys to healthful behavior and lasting relationships. This book will improve more than a dog's life-it will be required reading for the students in all my behavior classes.

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: how to learn 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781617810640
Publisher: Dogwise Publishing
Publication date: 01/01/2012
Pages: 124
Sales rank: 561,901
Product dimensions: 6.08(w) x 8.93(h) x 0.28(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Foreword xi

Introduction 1

1 Doubt of Control 4

2 Discord Explored: My Cognitive Dissonance 9

3 Halving a Cow 20

4 Are Alpha Roles Better Than Alpha Rolls? 30

5 If Not NILIF? 47

6 Putting the Heart Before the Force 77

About the Author 94

Recommended Reading 95

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