The Premack Principle

A webinar with with Kathy Sdao, December 1, 2022

The Premack Principle

To use positive reinforcement effectively, a trainer must thoroughly understand what reinforcement is and how it functions. Often, we oversimplify this by equating positive reinforcement with a piece of food. While food can work quickly & well in many situations, it’s useless when a learner is satiated, or too frightened or aroused to eat.

Trainers sometimes refer to a dog’s “life rewards”: those everyday pleasures such as the opportunity to go outside, to sniff a tree, or to greet an approaching dog. These can be used to reinforce desired behaviors. This approach is similar to the Premack Principle but doesn’t fully take advantage of his revolutionary insights. Premack said much more than, “If you eat your vegetables, you can have dessert.”

Learn how Dr. Premack’s laboratory-derived theory can help you and your clients expand your learners’ motivational menus. Throughout, we’ll take a look at real-life training applications of this scientific principle. You’ll be inspired to think about positive reinforcement more creatively and to develop additional reinforcers for your students.


Kathy Sdao is an applied animal behaviorist. She’s been a full-time animal trainer for thirty-five years, first with marine mammals and now with dogs. At the University of Hawaii, she earned a master’s degree as part of a research team that trained dolphins to understand sign-language. She then worked for the United States Navy training dolphins for open-ocean military tasks. Kathy also worked as a marine-mammal trainer at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma Washington. After leaving the zoo world, she co-created Tacoma’s first dog-daycare.

Kathy launched Bright Spot Dog Training in 1998. Services include consulting with families about their challenging dogs and mentoring professional trainers who want to maximize the power of positive-reinforcement training. Kathy is proud to be an original faculty member for Karen Pryor’s ClickerExpos; she’s taught at forty-one of these popular conferences. Kathy has lectured at venues across the United States, Canada and Europe, and in Australia, Israel, Japan and Mexico. In 2012, she published her first book, Plenty in Life Is Free: Reflections on Dogs, Training and Finding Grace.

December 1st, 7pm CET.  Find your local time here.

The webinar will be recorded so that you can access the recording if you are prevented from participating live.

KathyS & Silverado_Aug2018_crop

More information about Kathy Sdao.