Reaching the Animal Mind
For several years I've been hard at work on a new book. Now it's being published by Scribner, a division of Simon and Schuster, on June 16, 2009, and we'll start shipping orders for autographed copies on that date. (Order your copies here.) That's also the day I'm scheduled to be on Good Morning America.
So what's the book about?
At one level, this book is written for everyone who loves animals. It's about loving, understanding, and communicating with animals. Animals are a lot smarter and more aware than we used to think. But, if we want to reach the minds of animals and experience what they have to offer, we can't just wish it and we can't just want it, we have to understand how to bring out much more of our animals' complex intelligence. Only then can we experience their personalities, warmth, even humor! In all my years of training, I've discovered that the most fascinating outcome of the clicker technology is how it enables this deeper level of understanding of, and bonding between, people and animals.
Using stories much more than instruction, I explain not just how the human-animal bond works, but how to feel that connected yourself. I want the reader to feel that she is looking over my shoulder and seeing what I am seeing as we get inside the mind of a wolf, a polar bear, an elephant—even a fish. We'll come to know some remarkable dogs, cats, horses, and dolphins, and some interesting humans, too. And we'll experience communication with animals (and people, too) on a whole new plane.
The next level of information
At another level, this book is also for those who know something, even quite a lot, about training. Among other things, you'll learn about the "seeking" circuit, the part of the brain that makes clicker training so much fun. That's the vital reinforcement that makes it all worth doing for all of us—not the treat, not the click, but the joy of exploring and discovering new things together.
While I was writing this book, I tracked down and talked to some of the leading neuroscientists in the US to get the answers to some very important questions, like these:
- Why does the click make a better marker than the voice?
- Does the brain react to a cue differently than to a command?
- When do you no longer need the clicker at all?
Those answers, and the wealth of information behind the answers, make compelling reading.
We all know that there are lots of folks who are skeptical about using a marker or food, or who can't see (or don't want to see) how you can really train without force or punishment. I have encountered more skeptics—and hostile ones, too—in my life than most people can imagine. Many clicker trainers encounter skeptics every day, too. In my book there are answers for the skeptics! Maybe if they read the book, the answers will work for them, too.
Enrichment on the web
On June 16, publication day, we'll launch www.reachingtheanimalmind.com. This website will bring you pictures and video clips to back up and enrich each chapter in the book itself. Scientific papers and other recommended reading for each chapter will be available as downloads. When places or organizations are named in the book, you'll find a live link to the relevant website.
I hope you enjoy Reaching the Animal Mind. Let me know!