Kathy Sdao (she/her) is an applied animal behaviorist. She’s been a full-time animal trainer for 35 years, first with marine mammals and now with dogs and their people. Kathy received a master’s degree from the University of Hawaii, serving as a member of a research team which trained dolphins to understand sign-language. She then worked for the United States Navy to train dolphins for open-ocean military tasks. Kathy next served as a staff biologist at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington. There she expanded her training skills by working with beluga whales, walruses, porpoises, sea lions, seals, otters, and polar bears. After leaving the zoo world, Kathy co-created Tacoma’s first dog daycare, Puget Hound Daycare, where she first began teaching clicker training classes for pet owners.
Since selling Puget Hound in 1998, Kathy has owned and managed Bright Spot Dog Training. Bright Spot Dog Training’s services include consulting with families about their challenging dogs, teaching one-on-one lessons, and coaching novices and professionals to cross over to positive reinforcement training. In addition, she has trained animal actors, written for The Clicker Journal and the Seattle Times, consulted with Guide Dogs for the Blind and Susquehanna Service Dogs, and taught at the Instructor Training Courses hosted by Dogs of Course. Kathy also appeared as the “Way Cool Scientist” on an episode of the television show Bill Nye the Science Guy. She’s proud to be an original faculty member for Karen Pryor’s ClickerExpos and has taught at 40 of these popular conferences.
Kathy has lectured at venues across the United States, Canada, Europe, as well as in Australia, Israel, Japan, and Mexico, educating students about the science of animal training. She’s taught over 400 seminars, workshops, conference presentations and webinars, enjoying these opportunities to share her passion for the incredible power of positive reinforcement training, which she has confirmed over decades of working with dozens of species.
In 2012, she published her first book, Plenty in Life Is Free: Reflections on Dogs, Training and Finding Grace.