The Secret History of Kindness: Learning from How Dogs Learn

Melissa Holbrook Pierson. Norton, $26.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-393-06619-7
The average dog owner may seek formal training for an errant canine, but when Pierson (The Perfect Vehicle) struggled to train her border collie, she decided to study the more scientific aspects of animal behavior via the works of psychologist/behaviorist B.F. Skinner. Intrigued by Skinner’s approach to positive-reinforcement training, Pierson set out to meet a host of animal behaviorists and trainers to learn how to build a relationship with her dogs based on kindness and trust rather than confusion and fear. She details her interactions with one trainer in particular, Karen Pryor, whose method involving the use of clickers fascinated the author. In almost poetic language, Pierson’s book explores the philosophical intricacies of animal behavior, training, and human perceptions of control and empathy, leading the reader to think carefully about what truly motivates companion animals to obey human commands. Agent: Betsy Lerner, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/16/2015
Release date: 05/01/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-0-393-24723-7
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