On the other hand, if you train a dog the way we train dolphins – through positive reinforcement – the dog behaves just like a dolphin: he becomes eager, attentive, precise, co-operative, and capable of a fantastic performance.
Why did I get this book?
In all honesty, this book is a re-purchase, as I actually bought my original, Danish copy about 17 years back. Unfortunately, I was kind enough to give it away to a child that wanted to learn, only to find out it had gone out of print in Danish. And this is why I’m sitting with an English copy now. So, this time I think I’m going to go with why I bought the book those 17 years back and it’s actually a really simple reason. I was just introduced to clicker training in an animal training class in school, got interested, wanted to learn more, and that was the only work available in Danish at that time (at a reasonable price, for a young student, that is).
But I have not regretted the purchase since, though, because it is (still) a great little book, that covers the basics of clicker training in a very digestible way. The reason I am reviewing it now is a different story though. Over the past few months, I have seen an increasing tendency for dog professionals to recommend Karen Pryor’s book “Don’t Shoot the Dog” as a good clicker intro for absolute beginners. That book, while certainly being a somewhat informative read, is not beginner’s material though. And since Karen did us a massive favour of writing this little clicker book, I feel it deserves a place in the spotlight.
What does this book do?
100% what it says on the can. It teaches you clicker training for dogs. And even though the book has several years on it – it was published first in 1999 – it is still a great read. It starts with a brief intro to what clicker training is, and where it comes from. And I mean, really brief. 30 pages and you’re out of the woods on the geeky stuff and can get to training. The next 50 pages are about getting started and polishing up your newly acquired skills. It is complete with picture guides that take you through the exercises step by step and features exercises like recall, targeting, and loose leash walking!
Chapter 5 is dedicated to the “buts” and “what ifs”. Other books would call that chapter the troubleshooting chapter, but here it’s named “But what about?”, which I personally kinda like because it is troubleshooting, but with an extra cherry on top. You see, this chapter also addresses such things as the old myth about dogs needing to respect their humans, which was actually really new and groundbreaking 20 years ago, when this book was first published. Just shy of 15 pages are devoted to this section, so you will be well-covered with pretty much any question you have about clicker training. The last part of the book is about applying clicker training to more advanced behaviours like guide dogs and dogs in competitive sports.
What does this book not do?
This book is by no means for advanced learners. It is a beginner’s guide so if you’re looking to expand your skills beyond basic clicker training, this is not the right book for you. But, I would say it is still worth the ink it was printed with because even at my level, which I dare say is not a beginner, it is a great little book to pull out every now and again for a wee brush up. And no one should be above that.
Where do I get this book?
As I said, it is out of print in my language, so it may also be in yours if your native language is not English. However, it is available on Amazon in the English edition. It has been reprinted a few times though, so you may see a different front cover than the one Akira is sporting in the picture. Another great thing about this book is the price. It is available for as little as $9 + shipping!