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An Update: Books, Movies, Glamour—and the Canary

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An old goal

When I wrote the first edition of Don't Shoot the Dog, back in the early 1980s, I intended it as a handbook for helping PEOPLE dealing with people. I turned in the manuscript to the editor, who had bought the book idea on the basis that it was humorous. I explained to him that my real goal was to make sure that every person on the entire planet Earth stopped yelling at their kids.

Karen at her desk

He thought I was crazy. He thought the resulting book was crazy. He rejected the manuscript! Luckily, another editor salvaged it, published it with the title you know, and, by gosh, it became a "sleeper" bestseller as a book about dog training.

Help from a friend

Now my friend, and well-known Boston writer, Amy Sutherland has produced a delightful book plugging the gap. She takes on the perennial question of how to deal with the misbehavior of other people. Through personal experiences, Amy shows us how to learn to use reinforcement successfully, instead of using the more obvious manipulations of whining, nagging, sulking, scolding, and so on. Change the behavior of others by changing your own.

Amy shows us how to learn to use reinforcement successfully, instead of using the more obvious manipulations of whining, nagging, sulking, scolding, and so on.

The topic for the book came to Amy as she researched a book on the Exotic Animal Training and Management Program at Moorpark College, in California—a delightful story called Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched. (They don't care for that title much at Moorpark, of course.)

The new book is called What Shamu Taught Me about Life, Love, and Marriage. Amy appeared on NBC's Today show, and the book earned a great review in TIME Magazine Online, a snotty review in the New York Times (alas, the book is funny, and the reviewer seemed to have missed that fact), and a national book tour. It also led to a movie contract for Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched, with someone very glamorous playing Amy—who is pretty glamorous herself, actually!

For the tough ones on your list?

So the next time your friends and relatives are driving you crazy, don't give them Don't Shoot the Dog—give them this delicious quick read instead. Perhaps they can stop letting their inner ape out all the time, and learn to Shamu each other instead (it makes a nice verb, doesn't it?)

And think of me, deep in revisions. The rearrangement of Reaching the Animal Mind is going smoothly. The process is very interesting to the office canary.

About the author
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Karen Pryor is the founder and CEO of Karen Pryor Clicker Training and Karen Pryor Academy. She is the author of many books, including Don't Shoot the Dog and Reaching the Animal Mind. Learn more about Karen Pryor or read Karen's Letters online.