Home » Karen Pryor Academy

Karen Pryor Academy

Fifty Years of Positive Change: An Interview with Karen Pryor

Editor's note: Karen Pryor first learned about training with positive reinforcement almost 50 years ago, in 1963, when she began her animal training career as head dolphin trainer at Sea Life Park in Hawaii. She became fascinated by all that could be communicated between humans and animals using positive training. Karen applied what she had learned training dolphins to other animals (and humans!) and began teaching others the same pioneering techniques. In 1984, Karen captured the world's attention with the release of her first book about operant conditioning, Don't Shoot the Dog. Close to thirty years later, readers have learned more than we could imagine about the minds of animals, and about the possibilities for communicating and interacting with them, from her most recent book, Reaching the Animal Mind. On the book's third anniversary, and just past Karen's own 80th birthday, we talked with Karen to find out what is new in the world of animal training, and what she is up to now.

On My Mind: New Year, New Adventure

Are you a TAGteacher? Add some clicker savvy to your tool kit.

Are you a clicker trainer? Add TAGteach know-how to your dealings with people.

What's the difference?

Preventing Behavior Problems, One Puppy at a Time: An Interview with Debbie Martin

Behavior problems are the biggest threat to the human-animal bond, and the number-one reason dogs are relinquished. So what’s the key to preventing problems before they start? Debbie Martin, KPA faculty member and ClickerExpo faculty member, says, “Get them while they’re young!” One of the few veterinary technicians in the country to specialize in behavior modification, Debbie has always had an interest in animal behavior. She has dedicated her career to helping pet owners resolve their pets’ behavior problems. Recognizing that prevention is easier than treatment, Debbie believes that many behavior problems can be averted with early socialization and foundation training.

Through her book, Puppy Start Right: Foundation Training for the Companion Dog, and now with her ClickerExpo 2012 Session, Puppy Start Right!: Teaching Puppy Classes, Debbie continues to give pet owners, veterinary professionals, and trainers the information and support they need to improve the welfare of dogs—one puppy at a time!

Never Stop Learning: Laura Monaco Torelli Comes Full Circle

Laura Monaco Torelli, Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) Certified Training Partner (CTP) and the newest member of the KPA faculty, has been a professional animal trainer for two decades. Laura was introduced to Karen Pryor's philosophy and training methods in 1991 when Laura began her career training beluga whales, dolphins, sea otters, seals, river otters, and penguins as the Senior Lead Trainer at the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. In 2000, Laura moved from marine to terrestrial animals, holding lead trainer positions at the San Diego and Brookfield Zoos. She has trained a wide variety of species, including primates, large cats, birds of prey, reticulated giraffes, Arctic foxes, horses, parrots, macaws, tree kangaroos, red pandas, and, of course, dogs! Laura's career has included one fantastic learning experience after another and is now leading her full circle—back to Karen, as she becomes the newest faculty member at Karen Pryor Academy.

On My Mind: Visiting with Vets

Did you know that…

…more dogs (and cats) are turned in to shelters or euthanized for behavioral reasons than for any other problem?

…the average veterinary practice in the US loses approximately 15% of its patients a year, when pets are given away or otherwise disposed of by owners, usually because of behavioral problems?