Animal Trainer Tips to Tame Your Mate
You wont need a whistle to make these tricks work!
"The animal kingdom is full of strange and complicated creatures, perhaps none more puzzling than the species Husband. These animals are territorial (especially around the remote control) and food-driven, often seeking sustenance in grains such as corn chips. Theyve been known to hibernate during baseball season.
So explains writer Amy Sutherland in her new book What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage. Sutherland studied the techniques of exotic animal trainers and found she could apply them to her relationship with her husband, Scott. ""In some ways, trainers are working with animals in a much more humane, progressive manner than humans deal with each other,"" she says. Her 14-year marriage has benefited and Scott now uses animal trainer tricks on her as well! ""We always got along, but we had a lot of wear-and-tear in our relationship,"" she says. ""Much of that is gone, and were more appreciative of each other."" Here she shares her favorite tips (no whip-cracking needed):
Know Your SpeciesIf you want to set your animal um, partner up for success, you need to know what comes naturally to him and what doesnt, says Sutherland. For example, your mate may be nocturnal, staying up late to watch sports highlights. If this is the case, asking him to take out the trash at dawn is probably a bad idea. But if you need him to run to the grocery store for milk at 10 p.m., hell gladly oblige (TiVo can come in handy at these moments, too). When you understand your species, you realize that certain behaviors are instinctive and simply arent going to change. ""A badger will never stop digging, and my husband will never stop losing his keys,"" says Sutherland. ""When I started thinking that way, it made me ease up and be more realistic.""
Ignore the Behavior You Dont WantIf a dolphin does something wrong splashes around when asked to wiggle a fin, for example what does its trainer do? Nothing. She doesn't throw up her hands, sigh or yell. Instead, a good trainer puts on what Sutherland calls a ""head-to-toe poker face,"" stands silently for a moment, then resumes the drill. ""The idea is that any response, positive or negative, may fuel a behavior,""Sutherland says. ""If a behavior provokes no reaction, it typically dies away."" In her pre-Shamu days, when her husband lost his temper, Sutherland tried to appease him, but she realized it was just fueling his outbursts. Now, she ignores it and his anger fades much faster.
Reward the Behavior You Do WantWhen a killer whale jumps through a hoop, it gets a juicy mackerel. Your mate, too, needs positive reinforcement when he does something positive. Dont hesitate let your partner know right away that you appreciate it when he mows the lawn or does the laundry. Match the reward to the task. (If your husband clears the dishes, no need to applaud; a simple ""thank you"" is enough.) Good trainers mix it up, so use a variety of rewards: a hug, a smile, a compliment. ""If people can do these things for animals,"" says Sutherland, ""why cant we do them for our spouses?"""