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Karen Pryor

Karen Pryor is a behavioral biologist, a pioneering dolphin trainer, and an authority on applied operant conditioning—the art and science of changing behavior with positive reinforcement. Her book, "Don't Shoot the Dog," now in its 16th printing, was written as a basic text on how the conditioned reinforcer works in everyday life; it's also become the "bible" for many dog trainers, especially those who want to avoid harsh methods.

Many dog trainers are now using a little plastic noisemaker, a "clicker," as their marker signal to tell the dog when it's done the right thing. In 1987 Pryor began giving dog training seminars and communicating with hundreds and then thousands of people who were experimenting with this non-coercive teaching system, nicknamed "clicker training." Clicker training has now spread around the world, greatly aided by the Internet (see Pryor's clicker training Web site in the Resources section of this site). Reinforcement training is now widely used in zoos, in the handling and medical care of wild animals, and with other domestic animals such as horses. Pryor herself is presently studying the use of a marker signal in the teaching of developmentally disabled children.

Karen Pryor was educated at Cornell University with graduate work in zoology and behavioral biology at Rutgers and NYU. She was a co-founder of Hawaii's Sea Life Park and Oceanic Institute where she served as curator and pioneering head dolphin trainer. She is the author of seven books and over 50 scientific and popular articles on learning and behavior. She has served the U.S. government as a marine mammal expert and Federal Commissioner, and consults to private industry on behavior and training. She is the publisher and editor in chief of Sunshine Books, Inc., producing books and videos on "clicker training" and the science of operant conditioning and positive reinforcement. Ms. Pryor has three children, six grandchildren, and one dog, a Border Terrier. She resides in Watertown, Massachusetts.


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