Saturday, November 28, 2009

Book review: Reaching the Animal Mind (by Karen Pryor)

Reaching The Animal Mind by Karen Pryor

Clicker training fans will not be able to put this book down. It starts with some brief but fascinating stories of how Karen and her husband started a sea life park in Hawaii and started training dolphins, porpoises and whales to do Marineland-like shows for the public. Along the way she taught children to clicker-train horses and was surprised to find them surfing together in the ocean, the children riding bareback and the ponies having tremendous fun. She talks about behavior shaping, communicating with animals, animals expressing feelings and showing creativity, and creating attachments. She then goes on to cover the evidence of fear (and it’s detriment to the ability to learn). She covers the common questions around clicker training, and then goes to share some breakthrough understanding that has come from her pursuit of neuroscientists (such as recent discoveries that all conditioned reinforcers travel through the brain via the primitive brain—the amygdala—rather than the higher-thinking cortex). She also covers the revolutionary use of clicker training on people (called TAG teaching). Throughout the book she references wonderful videos and additional references available to all at .

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in clicker training. Karen writes with a straightforward and humble style that is engaging and fun to read. It’s a heartwarming book packed full of information for beginning and advanced trainers alike.

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