Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Reaching the Animal Mind: Clicker Training and What It Teaches Us About All Animals” as Want to Read:
Reaching the Animal Mind: Clicker Training and What It Teaches Us About All Animals
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Reaching the Animal Mind: Clicker Training and What It Teaches Us About All Animals

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  1,119 ratings  ·  81 reviews
From the founder of “clicker” training, the widely praised humane approach to shaping animal behavior, comes a fascinating book—part memoir, part insight into how animals and people think and behave.

A celebrated pioneer in the field of no-punishment animal training, Karen Pryor is responsible for developing clicker training—an all-positive, safe, effective way to modifytraining,
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published June 16th 2009 by Scribner (first published April 21st 2008)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.36  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,119 ratings  ·  81 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Reaching the Animal Mind: Clicker Training and What It Teaches Us About All Animals
Mar 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
The more books by Karen Pryor I read, the more I want to read books by Karen Pryor.

The cover of this book was a bit misleading. My copy, at least, has a picture of a happy dog on it. That and the words "clicker training" in the title led me to believe it was mainly about clicker training in dogs. This couldn't be more incorrect. There are dogs in here of course; but they keep company with plenty of cats, ferrets, dolphins, whales, miniature horses, gymnasts, autistic children, and go
Jun 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: animals, nonfiction, zoo
This is essentially the book that most people expect when they pick up "Don't Shoot the Dog!". Pryor gets away from trying to apply clicker training to all aspects of life and focuses on anecdotes of using clicker training for a wide range of animal species. I really enjoyed this as a light read (and oh man, did it make me miss my zoo critters) and it's a lot of fun (I particularly liked the stories about training fish and hermit crabs), but there's not as much new insight as I had hoped for. Th ...more
Jan 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Wow!! Very interesting!!! This chick trained a friggin' FISH to do tricks. Surely I will be able to teach my dog some good manners?!?!? Very intriguing stuff to me!
Nov 16, 2019 rated it liked it
I was hoping that there would be more information about clicker training for cats, but this book focused on how this training has benefited many different kinds of animals in the world. While it was interesting, I was itching to learn more about how to get two cats to get along with each other via clicker training. Unfortunately, I am still on the lookout for a book of this type.

I just did some research and the author does have a book for cats! Yay! So happy to hear this. Trying to l
Sassafras Lowrey
Jan 26, 2019 rated it liked it
i've been meaning to read this book for years - it was fine but not worth the hype. i enjoy clicker training it's a modality i use when training my dogs but i don't really have much patience for the cult-like aspects the subtle way that other positive trainers get talked down to. some of the real-world application stories from different species were interesting to me but it started to feel like an infomercial for the training institute/clicker expo/etc.
K.J. Dell'Antonia
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: barn-shelf
Oh, man, I loved this so much. And I'm clicker training my dogs to stop barking and my cat to high five me. My only problem is that whenever any of them hear the clicker, they all appear...
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to read Karen Pryor's book on clicker training with cats. Unfortunately, this was the only Karen Pryor title my local library had in stock. It wasn't really my cup of tea. The first part of the book is Pryor telling stories about using clicker training with various animals, mostly dolphins. She goes a little into the behaviorism mechanics behind it (e.g., chaining, shaping), but that's about it. This isn't really a 'guide' to help you clicker train an animal.
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I couldn’t wait to read this book after reading “Don’t Shoot the Dog.” Karen offers more information on a positive way to communicate what behaviors you want from org animals and people. She provides great examples from many different species from fish all the way to elephants, marine mammals, and people. If training does not appeal to you but animals do, this book will still interest you with the many fun and sometimes comical stories. The only thing I wish she spent more time discussing is TAG ...more
Sea Reads
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Karen Pryor is an icon. This book is not precisely an instruction manual for people interested in learning to clicker train other animals. It does provide lots of guidance on the technique, as well as step-by-step shaping instructions at the end, but it shines as an invitation to readers to explore a new and wholly different way of understanding and interacting with individuals of both our species and others. Pryor will absolutely charm you with anecdotes about her experiences working together w ...more
Lauren Timson
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of my absolute favourite books - being an animal keeper myself who is fascinated by animal behaviour this is a must read. A real insight into how animals think and how they process their emotions with Karen's excellent way of writing. I love the fact that I learn information which I can use to increase my own knowledge but I feel like I am reading a story! Best way to learn I feel. Karen is a genius and has lead with the way for animal training and behaviour.
Massanutten Regional Library
Deva, North River patron, June 2018, 5 stars:

Everyone should read this book. I was so excited after reading this book that I used clicker training to train my cat to jump over a bar. I'm now trying to train him not to bite my calf as I'm walking. The techniques described in this book work on humans too.
Sarah ♥ dog crazy ♥
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book every pet owner should read. Clicker training is such a wonderful, fun tool to train your animal.

The only thing I didn't like was that many of the animals mentioned are wild animals in captivity. I'm not a fan of Sea World parks, zoos etc.
Fred Herlihy
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wasn't as informative/teaching as I expected but still made me tear up over and over again. A series of powerful anecdotes on clicker training and a fascinating look into KP's incredible life.
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
A lot of interesting anecdotes, but not really a "how to" guide for training animals. I was also frustrated by how her stories all involved three clicks to a perfectly behaving pet from a formerly murderous beast (with ease!) while I am unable to replicate similar seemingly simple behaviors with my own dog. For example, training a dog not to bark was four clicks and a quarter of a hot dog in the book, and didn't seem to require any particularly strong set of training skills (e.g. timing precisio ...more
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, dogs
The best book on dog/animal training I've ever read and I want everyone who owns a dog to read this
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is a must-read for all animal lovers, especially trainers. It is full of great stories and wonderful insights.
Matthias Masch
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good book, but a bit too much publicity for my taste. Where are the open questions? What are the pain points of clicker training?
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. Karen Pryor is fascinating and inspirational.
Hadassah Holl
Mar 04, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a good introductory book for understanding clicker training. I enjoyed learned about all the different ways clicker training can be used. For me since I have already been through a clicker training class, I don't think I got as much out of the book. All in all a worth while read.
David Shinabarger
Dec 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: have-read
With no mention of humans, management, or coaching in the title, Karen Pryor's Reaching the Animal Mind is one of the best books on business management and Carnegie-style affirmation I have ever read.

It's best summed up near the end of the book where Pryor says "the part of TAGteaching that proves most crucial for (Cascade Fisheries) managers is how to "break it down." When someone doesn't understand instructions, or some process isn't working, the answer is not to increase the pressure but to
Sep 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing book. I am doing some clicker training with my dog, so am a bit of a novice, but I do see the benefits. The author tells how clicker training is used with other animals as well. Would you believe she used clicker training to teach a hermit crab to ring a bell for its supper???? She has used this method with dolphins, wolves, elephants, gorillas and many other animals with positive results.

I thought the book would be a how-to manual, but it was an astonishingly inte
Nov 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Overall pretty interesting introduction to connecting with the animal mind using positive motivators and timing. I think Karen has a lot of skill but I think she pats herself on the back a bit too much as being such an innovator with dog training. Most of her examples were linked to training dolphins. Stick intelligent mammals in a tank with little stimulation and limit food and it should not be surprising that you get such fast results.

I am glad she helped so much with the dolphin world. The b
Dec 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Loved the book and the many analogies. It explains the background and scientific view point to how positive reinforcement/clicker training works and why it works. All in an interesting way that the average non-scientist can understand. I would highly recommend this book!

However I only gave the book four stars because I felt that her criticisms of other trainers and their methods to be at times harsh and narrow minded. Much like what she was accusing them of being. (She really seemed
Jun 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Every once in a while I read a book that changes my thinking forever. This is just such a book. Reaching the Animal Mind is only partly about clicker training. It's more about the amazing ability of animals to think, communicate, interact, and learn from us joyfully when we meet them in a non-threatening way. It's full of poignant and powerful stories of animal-human encounters.

It also helped me understand for the first time the scientific basis for clicker-training and how the brain
Emilee Hone (Emilee Reads)

Reaching the Animal Mind assumes you already understand the basics of clicker training or positive reinforcement training. It was less of a training book and had more stories from Pryor's work training various animals, such as horses, many dogs, feisty dolphins, and cats. She even worked with autistic children on occasion. I loved her observation on the mutually beneficial relationship between the fishermen and dolphins in Brazil. The anecdote about guide dog schools converting to clicker tra/>Reaching
Feb 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book was not only valuable from a dog-training perspective; it really gives a deeper understanding of how brains work, both human and animal, and how much better our relationships with other beings can be when we communicate clearly and compassionately. This books was fantastic, and it's filled with anecdotes about Pryor's experiences with dolphins, dogs, horses, and even developmentally impaired humans. She clearly indicates that her training, done humanely and kindly, can make changes whe ...more
Aug 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
About a week ago I read Reaching the Animal Mind by Karen Pryor.
I'd definitely recommend it to pretty much anyone who likes animals. Even pet owners who aren't ensconced in clicker training can find it enjoyable. It's fun and easy to read.

Some of the stories in the beginning are the same ones that are in Lads Before the Wind, and I might have skipped that section if I'd known.

There's a really good chapter on TAGteaching. And now I finally understand it! The basic idea is that in s
Clif Brittain
Feb 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. Learning new things is one of my greatest pleasures. Pryor tells in this book about her experiences with dogs, ponies, dolphins, and people that illustrate how we learn and what makes learning enjoyable. As a species, we humans have an incredible arrogance about how our brains and abilities are superior to "lesser" animals. This book puts the lie to that myth. Animals enjoy learning and discovering as much as we do.

But the ability to learn and use that learn
Jun 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Karen Pryor offers a fascinating study in the practice of clicker training animals. Her stories about dolphins, dogs, cats and ponies are as endearing as they are enlightening about how humans can communicate with other species and work together to reach new heights of awesome together.

This book is not a guide to clicker training, but instead a discussion about it. Although this book will not give you the procedure for teaching your dog to fetch, it will provide entertaining insight into what g
Oct 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who is thinking of clicker training
Pryor is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to animal training and clicker training! The essential creator of clicker training shares her knowledge and experience in this fascinating book. She explains the mechanics, the neuroscience and still keeps a down-to-earth attitude about it. It's not only been used with dogs, but also with horses, cats, fish, and hermit crabs. It works and it works fast. It avoids harsh corrections, focuses on the positive, and creates a deeper bond with the animal. ...more
« previous 1 3 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
animal behavior 2 6 Aug 16, 2013 12:36PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Possibility Dogs: What a Handful of "Unadoptables" Taught Me About Service, Hope, and Healing
  • The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs
  • Before and After Getting Your Puppy: The Positive Approach to Raising a Happy, Healthy, and Well-Behaved Dog
  • Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog
  • The Power of Positive Dog Training
  • The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter than You Think
  • For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend
  • I'll Be Home Soon: How to Prevent and Treat Separation Anxiety
  • Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals
  • Decoding Your Dog: The Ultimate Experts Explain Common Dog Behaviors and Reveal How to Prevent or Change Unwanted Ones
  • The Culture Clash
  • On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals
  • How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves
  • Excel-Erated Learning: Explaining in Plain English How Dogs Learn and How Best to Teach Them
  • What the Dog Knows: The Science and Wonder of Working Dogs
  • The Cautious Canine: How to Help Dogs Conquer Their Fears
  • Behavior Adjustment Training: BAT for Fear, Frustration, and Aggression in Dogs
  • Feisty Fido: Help for the Leash Aggressive Dog
See similar books…
Karen Pryor is the CEO of Karen Pryor Clicker Training and Karen Pryor Academy.

Karen is an active, leading spokesperson and teacher for effective force-free training across the globe. Her work with dolphins in the 1960s revolutionized animal training by pioneering and popularizing force-free training methods based on operant conditioning and the conditioned reinforcer.

“When you stop relying on aversive controls such as threats, intimidation, and punishment, and when you know how to use reinforcement to get not just the same but better results, your perception of the world undergoes a shift. You don’t have to become a wimp. You don’t have to give up being in charge. You lose nothing of yourself. You just see things you didn’t see before.” 2 likes
“that aversives stop behavior, they don’t start it; and that fear and pain produce completely unpredictable and usually highly undesirable side effects, including being both exciting and reinforcing to the punisher. I have” 1 likes
More quotes…