Karen Pryor’s Reaching the Animal Mind

Last year I contacted Karen Pryor asking for an interview about her online training program. She wrote back saying she couldn’t since she was swamped with work on a new book–which is due out in September and titled, Reaching the Animal Mind: The Clicker Training Method and What It Teaches Us About All Animals

I first chatted with Karen just after her now infamous, Don’t Shoot the Dog!: The New Art of Teaching and Training was released. The concepts presented were not new to me or my colleagues in the zoo and exotic animal training world but they hit a cord in the dog training world big time.

Soon, the methods moved into the popular culture’s cats, horses, llamas, pet birds, and other companion animals and livestock as Karen toured with Gary Wilkes–spreading the word and creating business empires for them both.

Today the popular term for those techniques is known simply as “clicker training.”

Before clickers were widely manufactured most marine animal and many wild animal trainers used battery operated biker buzzers, got our hands on the party crocodile noise makers, brass frogs and other clickers from the Far East. They were like gold bullions.

Today you can purchase clickers that allow you to adjust the noise of the clicker and select from a wide variety of colors, styles, and manufacturers.

Perhaps I should put my older clickers in a shrine and start a clicker museum…

Anyway, changes in animal training methods are difficult to get some people to accept. If it worked a long time ago–why change it?

I hate that mindset.

When I tested the early head control devices and the citronella collars here in the USA in the early 1990s people argued with me, scowled at me, yelled at me–because they did not understand the devices nor did they want to change.

Funny enough, I still encounter that resistance but it is easier to sway them. In fact, one of my neighbors saw how the use of the head control device made managing my other neighbor’s dog a breeze–and gleefully presented the idea to his wife.

She scowled and resisted. During a social evening he wanted me to present the case for using it on his dog to her–and I declined. Instead, I put up a video for them to watch on my local blog.

It always amazes me that some people will argue with a professional when they have asked for a professional opinion. I am SO over that which is why I declined to comment during my down time. I could she her resistance in her scowl…

Funny thing is, these people are highly educated, well traveled, and love their dog. So why would she show resistance over a device that doesn’t work for them and inflicts pain on their pet?

Beats me.

Anyway, below are a few of Karen’s books. Advance order her new one and if you haven’t read the others I can recommend them as easily absorbed, facinating works.

About Ark Lady

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  1. Danielle Chonody says

    Hi Diana – love your new blog and the personalized top spots is great!

    I’d like to see some more info about the citronella collar – how does this work? We are having trouble with our vivacious Lab barking in the yard at night and early in the morning. I hate to use a bark zap collar. What are the alternatives?


  2. Thanks for stopping by Danielle. We have not moved the blog yet–it will look almost the same but in the WP platform. Still working hard on the website and blog–but life got in the way over the past couple of weeks.


    I’ll get to your question in another post but for now you need to know that the citronella collars have a higher success rate than the electronic shock collars. I actually have to do a course on barking–maybe I can get you to moderate it?