Reaching the Animal Mind (RTAM) came out exactly a year ago, in June of 2009. And wow, what a year it’s been! The hardbound original now has 30,000 copies in print. My life has already changed as a result, and things are changing for clicker training, too.
Karen at this year's Dog Writers Association
of America Annual Awards Banquet where
Reaching the Animal Mind was named best
training and behavior book of 2009!
Clicker training in the scientific community
Instead of inbox queries about giving dog training workshops (that I always pass on to Karen Pryor Academy [KPA] faculty), I’m now deluged with invitations to be on advisory boards, to contribute chapters to scientific books, and to give speeches in academic settings.
In April, I went to Dallas to give a keynote address to the Southwestern Psychological Association (SWPA). I also visited ClickerExpo faculty scientist Jesús Rosales-Ruiz at the University of North Texas, where I gave a sold-out public lecture and spent a day consulting with grad students, many of whom are doing research on clicker training.
Here in Boston, I was invited to give a seminar at Harvard’s Brain Research Institute. Since then I’ve been informally advising a bunch of neuroscience graduate students on how to clicker train their rats. In July, we’ll be using clicker trained rats for some advanced work at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod.
Public lectures at shelters and zoos
With strong efforts from KPA faculty and from over 200 graduates/Certified Training Partners, we’re seeing rising interest in RTAM and clicker training in the veterinary community. The shelter and rescue communities are also responding to Reaching the Animal Mind. Shelters with active clicker training programs for animals and for the public adopt out more dogs and cats and have fewer returns. In 2009 I gave sold-out fundraiser lectures and book signings for the huge Humane Society of Missouri in St. Louis, and the equally well-established Humane Society of Boulder Valley in Boulder, Colorado.
I’ve also been giving public lectures, fundraisers, and book signings at some of the larger zoos in the country. I usually include a private workshop for keepers and curators, which of course means I get a backstage tour of all the clicker programs and animals, from creative hyenas to socialized rhinos and obedient crocodiles. Fun! Here, too, curators and boards of directors are becoming reassured about the validity and importance of supporting their keepers in managing animal care with clicker training.
This year RTAM has also brought me some wonderful new acquaintances, including Alexandra Horowitz, Ph.D. (author of Inside of a Dog,) Kathleen Dudzinski, Ph.D. (author of Dolphin Mysteries), Temple Grandin, Victoria Stilwell, and Marty Becker, D.V.M., whom you may know from Good Morning America.
Changes for Karen Pryor Clickertraining
What are we seeing at KPCT headquarters? More sales, and more interest in clicker training from all over the world. More awareness of the real nature of operant training. I am thrilled by Amazon’s reader reviews of Reaching the Animal Mind. People LOVE the book, people GET it. We’re also getting a surge in applications for Karen Pryor Academy, as trainers see the value of this level of understanding with their own education and professional growth.
One of my aims in writing the book was to promote clicker use in human applications, and that’s definitely been a result. TAGteaching is featured in RTAM’s last chapters. I describe multiple applications of TAGteach, including stories about some of my own experiences using a clicker to shape behavior in children with autism. That’s enough to send people to ReachingtheAnimalMind.com to see videos, and then to TAGteach.com to find an upcoming seminar.
The paperback edition of Reaching the Animal Mind is coming out now, in June of 2010. Are there any changes? Well, yes. We fixed a bunch of typos. At my editor’s request, I added a little introduction. At my request, the editor added an index (I don’t know why the original didn’t have an index, as the index was in my contract). Well now it does, which is a great help to me as I can never remember which chapter the rhinoceros is in, or where I first mentioned TAGteaching for golf. You’ll find the index handy when you want to defend a particular point or ram specific information into the brain of a resistant newcomer.
And of course the paperback is cheaper! Meaning it will be easier to assign it to students and clients, recommend it to friends and colleagues, and give it away as Christmas and birthday presents (no longer restricted to dog owners, either; positive reinforcement is a life-changing tool for all.)