While observing exotic animal trainers for her acclaimed book Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched, journalist Amy Sutherland had an epiphany: What if she used these training techniques with the human animals in her own life–namely her dear husband, Scott? In this lively and perceptive book, Sutherland tells how she took the trainers’ lessons home.
The next time her forgetful husband stomped through the house in search of his mislaid car keys, she asked herself, “What would a dolphin trainer do?” The answer was: nothing. Trainers reward the behavior they want and, just as important, ignore the behavior they don’t. Rather than appease her mate’s rising temper by joining in the search, or fuel his temper by nagging him to keep better track of his things in the first place, Sutherland kept her mouth shut and her eyes on the dishes she was washing. In short order, Scott found his keys and regained his cool. “I felt like I should throw him a mackerel,” she writes. In time, as she put more training principles into action, she noticed that she became more optimistic and less judgmental, and their twelve-year marriage was better than ever.
What started as a goofy experiment had such good results that Sutherland began using the training techniques with all the people in her life, including her mother, her friends, her students, even the clerk at the post office. In the end, the biggest lesson she learned is that the only animal you can truly change is yourself.
Full of fun facts, fascinating insights, hilarious anecdotes, and practical tips, What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage describes Sutherland’s Alice-in-Wonderland experience of stumbling into a world where cheetahs walk nicely on leashes and elephants paint with watercolors, and of leaving a new, improved Homo sapiens.
Fun interesting read!
This book was assigned as extra credit for my learning psychology class and it didn’t feel like school work at all. It was a very interesting fun read. This book put everything we learned in class into real world applications. The author emphasizes how positive reinforcement is much more effective than punishment because it teaches the animal exactly what you want them to. As I was reading this book we had just gotten a new golden pup in our home and I started using all these applications and it was amazing to see how effective they were. Training was a piece of cake! She mainly goes into detail of how she uses exotic animal techniques in her everyday life especially on her husband, and how much better things have gotten, for example she starts ignoring behavior she doesn’t want rather than nagging and gives a thank you when her husband picks up the dirty clothes. Overall this book teaches you how you can change your behavior in order to get the responses you want from others.