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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
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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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified 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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53 of 65 people found the following review helpful
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. If there is a daredevil squirrel jumping from tree to tree it can be difficult to break their focus but the three of them sitting at the base of the tree staring longingly upward as if in a trance means they aren't getting in any trouble and they will begrudgingly respond to me...eventually.

It also is surprising to discover how impassioned the other side is---the so called "traditional" trainers. Many of them who are in the business have probably seen their revenue shrink. Some, based on their rantings, aren't very bright or educated. Others are just really intent on dominating someone or something. When they start talking about how much more humane their prong collars are than The Gentle Leader...

If you have a dog and are not enjoying the experience---good for you for attempting to learn some possible answers by buying a book. Sadly, it probably won't be enough. You need a trainer to train you as much as to train your dog.

Don't be wowed by the slickest web site and view with suspicion franchise dog training operations. A local shelter or rescue might have some suggestions. You might check with a local hospital that allows therapy dogs and find out who trained them or certified them. At a local dog park seek out the owners with well balanced dogs and ask them.

Degrees are nice when coupled with hands on experience and successes. Telephone consults are worthless. Expect that the top of the game in terms of dog training and behavior assessment will be not only few and far between but heavily booked and not inexpensive.

The two best in my area, both women, both educated but not doctoral level, both widely admired, both do hours of pro bono work for shelter and rescues, both own big dogs of breeds with aggressive reputations, both with many years of documented success rehabilitating dogs with problems. Not every dog owner needs their services. For most people, a reputable entry level group class will be invaluable.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 26, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified 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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
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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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Don't Shoot The Dog makes you think that this book is based on dogs...but in fact it is based on human relationships and Dolphin training as well. It's the best book I have ever read on positive reinforcement training. Maybe not the easiest read but so educational. As a dog trainer I apply this to my own training and even human relationships.

There is no force used in this method of training and can be used on almost anything and anyone. From kids to birds.
This is a must read for anyone serious about training their dogs and having better relationships with the people around them. To understand training this is the book to read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2009
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I've read this book a few times, and even got the book on cd for my commute. I've recommended it for coworkers who have problems with blowing up at others. I've recommended it for parents.
I'm so glad I ran into this book: all because I adopted a "special needs" dog and had to recondition some undesirable behavior out of him. I thought I was learning to help him, and I ended up helping my whole life. I'm a better trainer at my job, I'm a more effective communicator with my spouse, and a much better parent. And frankly, I like people so much more now.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
After reading this book, I used the methods described to teach a very stubborn dog to sit, lay down and rollover in one afternoon. Easy to read, great examples, and applicable to human beings!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
Karen Pryor explains why punishment so often fails and why positive reinforcement

does(on people as well as dogs). The book is clear and easy to read. I found

it thoroughly enjoyable and very helpful.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
Screw not shooting your dog, this helped me not shoot my cat!!

I have a VERY vocal, very sociable cat who we got from the shelter a little overweight. Of course, a diet was necessary, but to a cat who had clearly been free-fed food before, this was a tragedy! She would beg, whine, plead, and outright DEMAND food (at the top of her lungs) whenever she thought I should be giving it to her, especially whenever I'm in the kitchen. Hardly fun at 5 am when I'm trying to leave for work! I was resorting to penning her in the bathroom while I prepared food in the mornings and evenings. I couldn't stand it anymore! Water bottle when she meows? NOT effective! I was getting more and more frustrated, and resorting to more and more desperate negative reinforcement. It was terrible for everyone involved.

Within 30 minutes of clicker work (note: we had done some work on nose targeting before), she was calmly sitting at the threshold of the kitchen next to her bowl, waiting for her next bite of dinner while I was making spaghetti. It was a revelation! It totally changed my outlook on our relationship. All those naughty behaviors? I can FIX them, and without resorting to punishment or negative reinforcement! Yes, you CAN train a cat!

People looking for a "quick how-to" may be disappointed by this book. This is a fantastic insight into training behavior, and not just for animals. Frankly, I think if you're looking for a quick fix, you're going to be disappointed in what you GET out of your relationship with your pet anyways. If you want to truly understand how to not only be a better trainer, but to have a better relationship with your pet, this is the book for you.

I look forward so much to applying these techniques with all my future pets.
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