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Animal Training for Husbands

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Four proven techniques you can try tonight.

When Amy Sutherland began writing books on animal trainers and animal training, she had no idea it would improve her marriage. But as she interviewed more and more trainers and saw their strategies in action, she became convinced their techniques just might work on her husband, too.

So she gave it a try, and was blown away by the results. Her suspicions were confirmed: Animal training techniques indeed work on husbands! This revelation was so major, she just had to share it with the world. So now she's written a book on the subject: What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage: Lessons for People from Animals and Their Trainers. Here are four of her top husband-training tips:

Reward behavior you like and ignore behavior you don't.
Like many husbands, Sutherland's often left laundry on the floor. She began thanking him if he threw his clothes into the hamper, and stepping over soiled clothes without one sharp word. She says as her husband basked in her appreciation, the piles became smaller and smaller.

Introduce "incompatible behavior."
Trainers often teach animals a new behavior that would make the undesirable behavior impossible. Sutherland's husband often hovered over her when she was cooking, and it drove her mad. But then she came up with incompatible behaviors for Scott to keep him from crowding her while she cooked--like chopping parsley or grating cheese at the other end of the kitchen. Or she'd set out a bowl of chips and salsa across the room. Soon, he wasn't hovering anymore.

Practice "least reinforcing syndrome (L. R. S.)."
When a dolphin does something wrong, the trainer doesn't respond in any way, according to Sutherland. She says the idea is that any response, positive or negative, fuels a behavior. If a behavior provokes no response, it typically dies away. So she began to ignore her husband when he'd freak out over losing his car keys. Before long, he wasn't freaking out anymore. Because she wouldn't join in his drama, the fireworks passed and he calmly found the keys on his own. Easy peasy.

Adopt the trainers' motto: "It's never the animal's fault."
When her training attempts failed, she didn't blame her husband. Instead, she just brainstormed new strategies for next time.

Do you think husbands can be trained like animals?

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2 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous July 28, 2008, 8:51 PM

Yes they can! And most men will even say they prefer if you spell out exactly what you need from them. Works like a charm!

Wolfie June 10, 2009, 6:50 PM

Animal trainer and current dog actor owner weighing in here: this works!! I have been telling my friends (unlucky in love) this for years, and they thought I was nuts. Or worse. After 23 successful years with the same man, it’s nice to be validated not only by the results, but by Amy as well :)

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