Jul 13, 2009

Don't Shoot the Dog!

The New Art of Teaching and Training
by Karen Pryor

This is not really a dog-training book. It's about training any other living being in your ken to do what you want, just by being nice to them about it (to put it in a nutshell). I was curious when I saw it, because I'd read Pryor's book about her work training dolphins, Lads Before the Wind (more on that another day). Don't Shoot the Dog! explains exactly what's behind her methods of positive reinforcement. Whether you're trying to train your dog, teach the cat to stay off the counter, encourage a child to have good behavior, get your husband to be less grumpy etc, Pryor has a method laid out that involves mainly praising the behavior you like, and ignoring the behavior you want to get rid of. (It reminded me a lot of another book I read years ago about being proactive -which I'm sure you've heard of -The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). Anyway, when it comes to training animals, her methods sound good to me- but when it comes to applying it to other people, I felt it would be a little bit- manipulative? and take a whole lot of patience to carry out. The book itself is easy to read, well-organized, and even amusing in parts. It's full of little examples and suggestions. I'm trying to put some of it into practice (especially with my four-year-old) without the feeling-like-I'm-being-manipulative part.

Rating: 3/5                   187 pages, 1984

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3 comments:

Nymeth said...

I used to have a copy of this book - back when I was studying psychology one of my profs recommended it, and I read part of it and then put it aside for some reason. Later someone I'm no longer in touch with borrowed it and they never gave it back :(

I remember really enjoying what I did read, though. And I think that consciously or not, we all use forms of reinforcement in our interactions with others. Of course it will depends on people's intentions, but using these methods doesn't feel manipulative to me - teachers do it all the time!

Callista said...

Hey I have this book! I just keep putting off reading it. I'm glad you liked it, that makes me more likely to read it.

Jenny said...

I agree with Nymeth that we're all using reinforcement of some kind in most of our interactions with people. To me, responding positively to positive behavior isn't any different to responding negatively to negative behavior - which I certainly do! So it doesn't seem manipulative (I don't think). (But maybe it's more manipulative than it sounds.)