Monday, February 13, 2012

Finished Book: "Don't Shoot the Dog" by Karen Pryor

At long last, I have finished reading Don't Shoot the Dog: The New Art of Teaching and Training by the world-renowned Karen Pryor.  Anyone who is involved with positive-based dog training has surely read this book and with good reason.  It is fantastic.  Truly, ultimately fantastic.  And the book isn't specifically written to speak to dog's written as a guide how you can use reinforcement in everyday relationships.

I found myself delightfully flipping through the pages, becoming infused with the obvious passion she has for teaching using reinforcement.  I especially enjoyed the chapter titled  "Untraining: Using Reinforcement to Get Rid of Behavior You Don't Want" where Karen speaks of "Eight methods of getting rid of behavior you don't want, from messy roommates to barking dogs to bad tennis to harmful addiction, starting with Method 1: Shoot the Animal, which definitely works, and ending with Method 8: Change the Motivation, which is more humane and definitely works too."

By no surprise, there is an entire chapter at the end of the book devoted to clicker training.  And in this chapter, on page 166, as Karen was talking about the explosion of popularity with clicker training in the early 90's, I became extremely happy when she highlighted, "Steve White, a K-9 police officer in Seattle, developed a clicker-training system for training patrol dogs.  One of this canine graduates caught three "bad guys" on his first night on the streets (and his tail was wagging the whole time, a characteristic of clicker dogs)."  This couldn't be more dead on.  I see this in classes all the time.  Dogs who are clicker trained have a perpetual wagging tail during training session.  It's a true delight to witness (and it's hard to get upset when training with a happy dog!).

Also included in Karen's book are her infamous 10 Laws of Shaping that, upon reading, made me get up off my couch and do some quick shaping with my beloved boy, Oscar.

In closing, this book is a must-read for anyone seeking to improve any relationship in their life...whether it's with their dog(s), spouse, co-workers, horse, cat, neighbor, etc.

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