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PLENTY IN LIFE IS FREE - REFLECTIONS ON DOGS, TRAINING AND FINDING GRACE
by Kathy Sdao (See other books by author)

Publisher: Dogwise Publishing
Edition:
2012 Paperback , 112 pages
ISBN: 9781617810640
Item: DTB1246

Summary: The story of one woman’s evolution in thinking about how we live with dogs, train dogs and ultimately learn from dogs. Refreshingly honest about herself and with thought-provoking challenges to modern “do more” dog training.

Price: $12.95 Add this item to my cart.

Expanded Description:

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. 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. But 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 a person's ability to share affection and attention with their dogs. This focus on human leadership puts puts the burden on dogs to "earn" their rewards rather than placing the primary responsibility on the humans to be generous, precise, 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 come to focus her own training philosophy which emphasizes developing partnerships in which humans and dogs exchange reinforcements and continually cede the upper hand to one another.

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.
Susan G. Friedman, Ph.D., Dept. of Psychology, Utah State University, www.behaviorworks.org

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.
Karen Pryor, Author of Reaching the Animal Mind, founder of www.clickertraining.com

Kathy Sdao is an Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist who has spent 26 years as a full-time animal trainer. She teaches about a dozen seminars annually, for trainers around the world. Kathy lives in Tacoma, Washington where she runs Bright Spot Dog Training and lives with her two dogs.

Click here to view an excerpt.

What reviewers are saying...
MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW
“A pet can be a great source of strength in our lives. "Plenty in Life is Free: Reflections on Dogs, Training, and Finding Grace" is a guide to training one's dog through granting a dog leadership, through reinforcing good behavior instead of trying to force the dogs behavior. Kathy Sdao, an expert in animal behavior presents her training knowledge and what she has learned in her pursuits about the human dog relationship. "Plenty in Life is Free" is a unique read for those who want to try a different hand at guiding their dogs.” James A. Cox

THE APDT CHRONICLE OF THE DOG
“NextGen Dog Training is here! You can come out of the closet now. Kathy Sdao gives us permission to be permissive some of the time because nobody can follow NILIF (Nothing In Life Is Free) all the time. We don’t have to hide our affection for dogs any more or appear perfect for clients and other trainers. As a matter of fact, being perfect even has some negative side effects for dogs and for our relationships with dogs! This ground-breaking book adds a fourth dimension to clicker training. Some will find Plenty disconcerting because Sdao debunks a protocol many of us believe - but most readers will be inspired (just gaze on the cover photo). Unsettling or uplifting, Sdao definitely will be the topic of conversation for a long time to come: PILIF (Plenty In Life Is Free) is the most innovative improvement for dog training in the past 300 years. A respected trainer, Sdao began with marine mammals during graduate school in Hawaii and currently counsels people with canine behavior problems, lecturing world-wide. PILIF is a training adjunct and a philosophical tome. I probably added a dozen zippy new slogans (e.g., “You can’t ration love (or air),“ “Communication trumps control,” “Don’t force – reinforce!”). Sdao continues where clicker training leaves off, with delicious ideas like these: • “The click takes the photo and the treat pastes it into the [photo] album.” (page 65) • The click also connects the behavior (what YOU want) with the reward (what the DOG wants) – a win-win situation! (page 70) [Think see-saw.] Sdao is not afraid to say the emperor has no clothes. This seminar-in-a-book brings her quirky yet caring and genuine personality right to your doorstep. Think of it as an ‘unconventional conversation with Kathy.’ A Renaissance woman and liberal arts scientist, Sdao is a well-rounded, detail-conscious writer who enthralls us. She anticipates our arguments and counters them while brilliantly and simply explaining the theory and practice of reward timing and behavior observations. After all, our job as trainers is to reinforce behaviors we want and prevent reinforcement of behaviors we don’t want our dogs to repeat. In essence: are you a leader or a feeder – the ‘Big Cheese’ or the ‘Big Cheese Dispenser’? I looked long and hard to find anything less than marvelous in Plenty. What I found was fairly inconsequential - I wanted to rush through the first parts of the book that debunked NILIF (I was already a convert) and discover the substitute, but I ‘doggedly’ read it all, in order. I would have liked the text divided into more chapters and perhaps I read it too slowly but the concept of ‘stickiness’ didn’t stick with me. Also, ‘emotional bids’ may be difficult to grasp at first. I do look forward, however, to Sdao’s engrossing seminar on PILIF! “PILIF or NILIF?” That is the question. But perhaps the answer is STILAFSA (Some Things In Life Are Free, Some Aren’t). After all, it’s all Premack!” Skye Anderson, writes for Yankee Dog News and other publications.


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A MUST READ!, March 6, 2012
Reviewer: Sarah Steiner
I adore this book! Plenty in Life is Free-Reflections on Dogs, Training and Finding Grace is a witty, must read for any one who is passionate about training and creating bonding relationships between humans and dogs. This book is full of compassion, insightful knowledge and humor. I could not peel my eyes away from the well written words of Kathy Sdao. She is truly an inspiration to both professional trainers and pet dog owners alike. I will reccomend this book to all my clients!
 
Reflections, indeed, April 24, 2012
Reviewer: The Dogs & I
While the title gives it away, this book left me a bit disappointed. I was never challenged as a dog owner or professional trainer. It is truly Sdao's reflections... and I agreed with her 100%; but her reflections were already my thoughts BEFORE I read the book. So, if you already are using positive methods, and recognize that different dogs and handlers need different methodology at different times, this book will do no more than affirm what you already know.
 
, May 16, 2012
Reviewer: Pat Blocker, CPDT-KA of Peaceful Paws Dog Traning
I want to thank Kathy Sdao for writing 'Plenty In Life Is Free-Reflections on Dogs, Training And Finding Grace'. With this book, she has essentially given me permission to teach fully from my heart. Her message and methods strongly resonate with me and reflect my evolution as a trainer bringing more compassion and spirituality to dog training.
 
Remarkable book, May 16, 2012
Reviewer: Jean McCord, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP, CNWI
This is a remarkably kind and personal treatment of training protocols for behavioral issues in dogs, written by a gifted and experienced trainer. Those of us who clicker train our own dogs and teach the philosophy and methodology to others sometimes despair that our voices will never be heard above those of entrenched 'traditional' trainers and television personalities. Kathy's voice is clear and reasoned as she sets out her arguments for taking another look at 'the way it's always been done' and presents an alternative view. And as a scientist, she bases every argument in solid scientific ground.



Many positive trainers and behavioral consultants will recommend 'Nothing In Life Is Free' (NILIF) protocols in dealing with dogs' issues. The crux of NILIF is that the dog must 'earn' EVERYTHING he receives from his owner, including affection. Kathy posits that NILIF is inherently antithetical to the loving relationships we owners wish to foster with our dogs. From page 16:



'I wondered if the NILIF protocols I'd distributed to students and clients over the years in any way fostered this antiquated notion of how to control dogs and, by extension, anyone whose behavior might cause us problems. This definitely is not the message I want to convey in my work with clients, or in my mission in the larger world. The rigid, coercive relationship a prison guard has with prisoners [in which the latter must earn everything they have] is the antithesis of the joyful, affectionate, trusting relationship I want to facilitate between people and their dogs.'



Kathy's writing voice is girlfriend-intimate as she explains the events that brought her to the realization that 'cultivating good behavior in dogs' is a better choice than trying to dictate their behavior through controlling access to rewards. She is concise, ordered, funny and quietly passionate about how we can best affect good behavior in our dogs while simultaneously creating love, trust and joy. I hope that every dog lover reads Plenty in Life is Free and takes its message to heart.
 
50 Rewards for PILIF, May 24, 2012
Reviewer: Caryl-Rose Pofcher
If Kathy's 'Fifty Rewards a Day' protocol were the only 'take-away' from the book, it would still be a great book. Truth is, there are lots of take-aways.

For owners and trainers who never bought in to the full NILIF but instead were already engaged in a give-and-take existence of reciprocity and a 'reciprocal exchange of reinforcement', Kathy's book says it eloquently (as one would expect), with humor, clarity and...always...clear and heart warming examples.

It's a lovely book, whether for folks who are exploring the possibility of a greater partnership with their dogs or for folks who already discovered what Kathy calls the 'reciprocal exchange of reinforcement' (lovely phrase, isn't it)!
 
one of the best!, May 28, 2012
Reviewer: Tamara Dormer
This might be one of the best training books I've ever read. There are not only very good ideas here, but the general kindness we should feel towards and use when training our dogs is tantamount to what dog trainers should be doing. This book was a very moving experience for me to read, and even though I consider myself a positive trainer, it's a reminder that I can always do better, always better.
 
Thank You, May 30, 2012
Reviewer: Dawn Mcnamara
Thank You, Kathy Sdao. It was affirming to hear from a top trainer that I was on the right path and shouldn't go against my heart when I refused to practice any of the adversive training methods out there. My dog doesn't ask to do agility. He does it for me so I also need to do what is best for him. This dog sport game of agility is only a game and I struggle constantly to do what I think is ethical rather than what will win ribbons. This book was truly uplifting and kept me going when I was close to giving up. After 6 years of training, I finally ran my fear agressive, low drive dog and we 'Q'd.' Best of all, I never once went against my own personal values. Kathy not only gives us permission to do this, she advocates for it. Way to go.
 
NextGen Dog Training, June 27, 2012
Reviewer: Skye Anderson
NextGen Dog Training is here! You can come out of the closet now. Kathy Sdao gives us permission to be permissive some of the time because nobody can follow NILIF (Nothing In Life Is Free) all the time. We don’t have to hide our affection for dogs any more or appear perfect for clients and other trainers. As a matter of fact, being perfect even has some negative side effects for dogs and for our relationships with dogs!

This ground-breaking book adds a fourth dimension to clicker training. Some will find Plenty disconcerting because Sdao debunks a protocol many of us believe - but most readers will be inspired (just gaze on the cover photo). Unsettling or uplifting, Sdao definitely will be the topic of conversation for a long time to come: PILIF (Plenty In Life Is Free) is the most innovative improvement for dog training in the past 300 years.

A respected trainer, Sdao began with marine mammals during graduate school in Hawaii and currently counsels people with canine behavior problems, lecturing world-wide.

PILIF is a training adjunct and a philosophical tome. I probably added a dozen zippy new slogans (e.g., “You can’t ration love (or air),“ “Communication trumps control,” “Don’t force – reinforce!”).

Sdao continues where clicker training leaves off, with delicious ideas like these:

• “The click takes the photo and the treat pastes it into the [photo] album.” (page 65)

• The click also connects the behavior (what YOU want) with the reward (what the DOG wants) – a win-win situation! (page 70) [Think see-saw.]

Sdao is not afraid to say the emperor has no clothes. This seminar-in-a-book brings her quirky yet caring and genuine personality right to your doorstep. Think of it as an ‘unconventional conversation with Kathy.’ A Renaissance woman and liberal arts scientist, Sdao is a well-rounded, detail-conscious writer who enthralls us. She anticipates our arguments and counters them while brilliantly and simply explaining the theory and practice of reward timing and behavior observations. After all, our job as trainers is to reinforce behaviors we want and prevent reinforcement of behaviors we don’t want our dogs to repeat. In essence: are you a leader or a feeder – the ‘Big Cheese’ or the ‘Big Cheese Dispenser’?

I looked long and hard to find anything less than marvelous in Plenty. What I found was fairly inconsequential - I wanted to rush through the first parts of the book that debunked NILIF (I was already a convert) and discover the substitute, but I ‘doggedly’ read it all, in order. I would have liked the text divided into more chapters and perhaps I read it too slowly but the concept of ‘stickiness’ didn’t stick with me. Also, ‘emotional bids’ may be difficult to grasp at first. I do look forward, however, to Sdao’s engrossing seminar on PILIF!

“PILIF or NILIF?” That is the question. But perhaps the answer is STILAFSA (Some Things In Life Are Free, Some Aren’t). After all, it’s all Premack!

(To appear in APDT’S COTD)
 
Beautiful. Memorable. As Perfect as Perfect Gets., October 26, 2012
Reviewer: Laura Holder, CPDT-KA
In Kathy's beautiful new book, Plenty in Life is Free, her experience, outlook, passion and ability to deliver a salient message left me satisfied beyond belief. I am energized, excited and ready to continue on the journey with my own dogs and with my clients, both current and future, with her approach to training. Throughout the pages, Kathy layouts a handful of alternative methods to the NILIF protocol/philosophy, all of which gravitate around the central idea that we, humans, need to get SMART (See Mark and Reward (Training)) with our dogs offer. We must be active in the participation and become skilled partners and listeners. It is our duty to reinforce our dogs (with petting, praise, walks, car rides...whatever!) when they reinforce us (with ANY behavior that you want them to do).

While slightly geared toward the dog training professional, I will be recommending this to clients and friends who are looking for 'more' in their partnership with their beloved pets.
 
A friend is not a training object, January 15, 2013
Reviewer: Magda
Kathy Sdao in her book PLENTY IN LIFE IS FREE effectively reminds dog owners and trainers that dogs - our best friends and companions - need more affection from their people, and not only the strict, bookish approach, represented by the NILF rule. Definitely worth reading.
 
Wonderful reflections!, January 16, 2013
Reviewer: Debby Mcmullen
I felt like I had discovered my twin when reading this book. Everything I teach, believe, feel about dog communication is here in this well written and clearly stated book. Training dogs is not something that you do for an hour and then go about your day. It's how you live with them and communicate with them on a moment by moment basis that makes the difference. Kathy Sdao makes that wonderful clear. Bravo!
 
excellent!!, February 7, 2013
Reviewer: Julie Rodriguez
I loved this book....as a trainer who has for years used the NILIF protocol, it was a fresh look at the subject, and it really made me think. It was an enjoyable read.
 

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