About Karen Pryor

Karen Pryor

"Hi! I'm Karen Pryor, the author of Don't Shoot the Dog and one of the founders of clicker training. In this section you'll find some things I've written about training that are not easily available elsewhere, such as speeches, my monthly letters to the clicker training community, clicker-related articles, and internet posts about clicker training questions."

Karen Pryor is the CEO of Karen Pryor Clicker Training and Karen Pryor Academy.

Karen is an active, leading spokesperson and teacher for effective force-free training across the globe. Her work with dolphins in the 1960s revolutionized animal training by pioneering and popularizing force-free training methods based on operant conditioning and the conditioned reinforcer.

Karen’s 40-year career working with and educating scientists, professional trainers, and pet owners has changed the lives of countless animals and their caretakers in zoos, oceanariums, and pet-owning households.

She is the author of six books, including Don’t Shoot the Dog!, the "bible" of training with positive reinforcement. Her most recent book, Reaching the Animal Mind, describes how to bring out the undiscovered creativity, intelligence, and personality of the animals in our lives. Karen lives outside Boston, Massachusetts.

puppy on leash for first time

I have a new Lab puppy. I am trying clicker training for the first time because it does seem like a logical progression to teach my dog. I have seen suggestions for tying the puppy to ones side and have read about teaching slack on the leash. But I have yet to see an article about putting your pup on a leash for the first time. If I use a leash when I take her out  I'm sure she will be very distracted by the leash and when it's 0 deg. outside I don't want her distracted. I haven't tried either because I think it's better to start out right rather than having to retrain. Any suggestions?

Suggestions to stop dogs from chasing running cats

Both my dogs like cats. One of them, however, thinks it's fun to chase cats when they're outside and willing to run. Two of my cats were born feral and run at the drop of a hat. Those cats are also miserable to the point of panic if I make them stay inside. How can I stop my otherwise good dogs from chasing the cats when they are outside?

Rescue Dog: Miniature Schnauzer

I just adopted a wonderful rescue, JJ, who is 5 years old. While he is an absolute joy, he does not know any commands and when we are out he pulls on the leash and barks at everyone. Which book should I start with?
Thanks a lot. flwrpowr :)

Rescue dog barks at everyone

I have two rescue dogs, and both of them pulled on their leashes and barked at everyone. They barked especially at people coming to my home. For the leash-pulling, I use a front-lead harness. I also signed them up for an "off leash maneuverability" class, which taught them to walk with me without a leash first. As to barking, I had a trainer come over. My dog barked at him vigorously while backing up. He diagnosed fear. Both my rescues had poor to no socialization prior to adoption. Neither had been inside a house before. They barked when they felt secure enough to express their fear. The trainer came over and ignored my dog and talked to me. He tossed pieces of boiled chicken on the floor. Eventually he held out a piece of chicken until my dog took it. The trainer came over again and this time had us invite a friend to come in the front door. The friend was armed with chicken. Whenever we had guests, the dog got chicken. We kept a bowl of chicken on the table for people to toss to her. The results were amazing--she now thinks visitors are great. She wags her tail and looks for treats. She now accepts petting from guests. If she barks at all, it's a couple of woofs before the tail wags. We got the dog in March, and the behavior changed in July. This wasn't an aggressive dog--just a scared and unsocialized one. We just adopted another neglected dog and he's doing the same thing. Fortunately, we have a bag of frozen chicken breasts for his training. Good luck!

Careers in Animal Behavior

I am a young college student in Boston looking into a career in animal behavior, perhaps in a zoo or in homes for domesticated animals. I have found it difficult to find a way to break into this field and was hoping for some suggestions.

behavior education

I am a grad student in behavioral ecology working with insects. My career before school however (and hopefully after) was as a behavioral therapist working with autistic children. I was never interested in working with humans, but had a hard time finding behavior jobs I was interested in after college. Behavioral therapy is the most fun I've ever had. I highly recommend checking into it. ABA (applied behavioral therapy) shares many clicker training principles.

I'm working on getting my master's which I hope allows me more choices, but I would like to be _trained_ in these principles OUTSIDE of human psychology. It is very very difficult to find a program explicitly on behavioral principles. I searched grad programs all over and never did find one that suited my interests. I just felt lucky to find a biologist that allowed me to work under him (everyone says to me "that's psychology", but we're animals! we have animal behavior, and we're missing out on so much progress by ignoring that).
Looks like there's a potential market for students like us...

good luck


I completely agree with you. I'm a college student in Champaign, IL and I'm having very similar issues. Let me know if you find anything out.

Deaf Dog

Help - what can I use for cues instead of a clicker as my dog is deaf? She is a Springer/Munsterlander mix, almost 18 and very arthritic but still happy and willing. I would like to shape some new behaviors and reinforce some older ones.
I am new to clicker training having learnt a little while volunteering with dolphins recently and being introduced to the technique.

Deaf Dog

I also have a deaf dog and use a penlight in place of a clicker. I picked up an LED light and ensure not to shine it right in his face as we have all been flashed by a camera flash and know it's unpleasant to the eyes.  I also recommend target training with your dog. I have my pup hand target for treats in order to practice focus and to get him looking at you.  For recall, I use a vibrating dog collar with huge jackpot rewards when the dog finds me.

bird dog training

I have an English Setter puppy and a Brittany puppy from field trial
champion lines on the way. Can clicker training be used to train a
bird dog? Virtually all top field trial trainers use the electronic
collar. Dave Walker even says in his book that the only time to remove
the collar is when you bury your dog! (Good electronic collars are
too expensive to bury!!)

Any thoughts on this subject would be appreciated. My English Setter
is sixteen weeks old and it is time for her training to begin.


Andrew B. Ahern

Karen Pryor's picture

Bird dog clicker training

Absolutely! Check out our new books Positive Gun Dogs: Clicker Training for Sporting Breeds and Clicker Gundog, both available in print and as downloadable eBooks. They are wonderful books that are pioneering in using all-positive methods for gun and bird dog training, and I believe they are just what you're looking for.

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