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Don't Shoot the Dog!: The New Art of Teaching and Training Paperback – November 1, 2006

110 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

"Whatever the task, whether keeping a  four-year-old quiet in public, housebreaking a puppy,  coaching a team, or memorizing a poem, it will go  fast, and better, and be more fun, if you know how  to use reinforcement."--Karen  Pryor.

Now Karen Pryor clearly explains the  underlying principles of behavioral training and through  numerous fascinating examples reveals how this art  can be applied to virtually any common situation.  And best of all, she tells how to do it without  yelling threats, force, punishment, guilt trips--or  shooting the dog. 8 methods for putting an end to  all kinds of undesirable behavior. The 10 laws of  "shaping" behavior--for results without strain  or pain through "affection training."  How to combat your own addictions to alcohol,  drugs, cigarettes, overheating or whatever, how to deal  with such difficult problems as a moody spouse, an  impossible teen, or an aged parent. Plus. .  .House training the dog, improving your tennis game,  keeping the cat off the table, and much more!

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Ringpress Books; 3rd edition (November 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860542387
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860542381
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Paul Chance on February 11, 2009
Format: Paperback
A book doesn't stay in print for over 20 years without meeting a need, and this book does that: It provides an introduction to the basic principles of behavior change in highly readable language. That makes it useful for anyone interested in training or teaching -- pet owners and professional animal trainers, of course, but also parents, teachers, corporate trainers and managers, spouses, and just about everybody else.

The title (which comes from a list of ways you can get "rid of" unwanted behavior) is unfortunate, in my opinion, because it suggests that the book is limited to dog training when in fact it is much broader than that. Indeed, some people have criticized the book because it is NOT a dog training manual. The subtitle comes much closer to describing the nature of the book.

Many people think that you need one set of procedures to train dogs, another to train cats, another for horses, another for people, and so on, so they look for a species-specific how-to. It's true that some critters learn faster than others and people get a lot more from watching models and from hearing instructions than do dogs and cats. It's also true that a book aimed at teaching or training a particular species will provide useful concrete examples. But the principles of behavior, and most of the procedures for changing behavior (which is what teaching and training are all about) are essentially the same no matter the species. This is why Pryor likes to say that no one should be allowed to have a baby until they have demonstrated that they can train a chicken.

Like a lot of people, Pryor tends to confuse negative reinforcement and punishment, as one reviewer pointed out. But to dismiss the book because of such an error is itself a far greater error. If my own book on classroom teaching proves to be as influential and durable as Pryor's book, I will be very pleased indeed.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By rra104 on October 14, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are looking for a basic dog training book, then you will be disappointed. Most dog training books focus on specific methods, whereas this book focuses on principles of behavior modification. That said, you will learn tons about application of behavior modification principles from this book, and they work on any species, humans included. It's a great read, full of valuable information.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Katie on August 25, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book goes into the underlying principles and techniques of behavior modification through positive reinforcement. The science is in, and has been for a while, that using positive reinforcement is the most effective way to teach anything with a spinal column the behavior you prefer it to do. Anyone interested in why and how positive reinforcement is such an effective behavior modification tool will like this book. I rate this book four stars instead of five because the author is first a scientist, not a writer, but her prose is readable enough and she explains the concepts succinctly. Despite the title, she didn't write this to teach people how to clicker-train their dogs, but if you are doing that, it will help you do it better.
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57 of 71 people found the following review helpful By J. Tew on November 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
Any serious dog trainer, shelter/rescue volunteer or dog owner eventually needs to read Don't Shoot the Dog but it would not be my first choice for a novice dog owner intent on "taming" their beloved bundle of energy. Pat Miller wrote a better introduction to clicker training, The Power of Positive Dog Training but even that would not be my first read. Perhaps one of Ian Dunbar's earlier books, Teaching a New Dog Old Tricks, or Dr. Dunbar's Good Little Dog Book. I've read dozens of doggie books and have yet to find the perfect one. Patricia McConnell has several short ones that deal with specific issues that are very good.

It amazes me how ardent supporters of "All Positive" training are but I suspect that most of them really don't understand classical and operant conditioning and few have studied any books about clicker training. I believe there are two types of clicker trainers: (1) people with a clicker hanging from their wrist and (2) true dog trainers who happen to use a clicker.

While I do not use aversive methods (but I did as recently as six years ago) that does not remotely mean that my three dogs weighing in at from 70-130 pounds don't know the meaning of "NO!" or that they don't have limits and boundaries. To me "NO!" is a management word (as opposed to a training term), meaning, "stop whatever you are doing instantly." I doubt that I use it more than once a week. "NO!" is like setting off the fire sprinkler system---it's an emergency measure beyond which there are no "easy" remedies. Off leash and without a remote device I have to know that a sharp, "leave it", "here!" or "Uh-Uh" or "enough!" will instantly bring a smiling Great Dane or Weimaraner back to me.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A. Walker on May 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
Although I think I'm reviewing the previous edition, I can't imagine enough has changed that this review will be obsolete!

Kare Pryor presents the science of behavior in an easy-to-read, layman's format. No more huge textbooks, the general public now has a shorter, fun-to-read (full of amusing anecdotes!) book that will give them accurate information. Although gently promoting positive reinforcement training methods, Karen gives the science behind her reasoning. Great book for anyone who wants to change behavior, from pet dogs to spouses to children.
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