About the Book

Karen Pryor gives everyone the technology for not just reaching into animal minds but glimpsing their souls.

Reaching the Animal Mind is about an entirely new way to see, understand, and communicate with animals. Animals are a lot smarter and more aware than we used to think. They show humor, affection, and regret, uncanny intelligence and depth of thought, but you have to know how to bring it out.

Share animal trainer and scientist Karen Pryor’s extraordinary interactions with the largest and smallest of creatures in the oceans and on land, in this compelling, enjoyable, and important book.

If you’re in love with dogs, go ga-ga over whales, or marvel at elephants, if you ever wished you could talk to the animals and have them talk to you, you’ll love Reaching the Animal Mind.


“In the 1960s, Pryor worked with her husband to build an oceanarium and research facility on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. Drawing on newly emerging behavioral concepts, most notably by B.F. Skinner, she was given a golden opportunity to use his conditioning principles to develop a one-of-a-kind dolphin-training facility, with public performances that went beyond anything anyone had done before. Pryor later wrote the groundbreaking Don't Shoot the Dog! (1985), in which she introduced the concept of positive reinforcement training, first developed for marine mammals, and applied it to canines. Here, Pryor presents anecdotes and observations collected over her 40-plus years researching and practicing these techniques, most notably "clicker" training. Her 12 chapters cover such concepts as shaping, creativity, attachment, fear, and emotions. The beauty of Pryor's writing is that it is clear and understandable even to novice and would-be animal trainers. The techniques she has pioneered and promoted work on an amazingly wide variety of animals, including humans. VERDICT Backed by the author's impressive credentials and readable style, this is highly recommended for both pet lovers looking for training advice and students of animal behavior.”
      --Edell M. Schaefer, Library Journal

“Karen Pryor explains positive training methods in an easy-to-understand manner that can be quickly learned by all animal lovers.”
      --Temple Grandin, Ph.D., author of Animals in Translation and Animals Make Us Human

“Karen Pryor, trainer extraordinaire and author (Don’t Shoot the Dog! 1984) has spent more than 30 years training animals and perfecting the ‘all positive reinforcement’ clicker training system. Basically, this system involves a trainer waiting for an animal to show a desired behavior, using a clicker’s ‘click’ to reinforce the correctness of the behavior, and then giving the animal a treat. Incorrect behavior is ignored, so the only reinforcement the animal receives is positive. Pryor relates success stories (and failures) in training dolphins, dogs, elephants, horses, primates, fish—and people. The chapter on creativity discusses how animals can invent new behaviors as a form of play and how this can be used in training, while animal friendships become obvious in a section on attachments. Communication, fear, feelings, and how to reach minds other than our own are examined, and a chapter on using clicker training with people neatly sums up the technique. This absorbing look at the broad applicability of a major training technique will be useful for all animal owners, parents, and people who train others or who need training.”
      --Nancy Bent, Booklist, May 15, 2009

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A note from Karen