What Shamu Taught Me about Life, Love, and Marriage: Lessons for People from Animals and Their Trainers

Unabridged Audiobook

Written By: Amy Sutherland

Narrated By: Hillary Huber

Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks

Date: February 2008

Duration: 5 hours 33 minutes


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?

The next time her 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. As she put more training principles into action, she noticed that she became more optimistic and less judgmental and that their marriage improved.

What started as a goofy experiment had such good results that Sutherland began using these training techniques with all the people in her life, with great results.

"This engaging, often humorous, insightful book belongs in all public and academic libraries' self-help, psychology, and animal behavior collections."-Library Journal


  • Anita S

    My psychology professor (Dr. Kanevsky) gave the class the option to read this book for extra credit. As a student, I am all for doing extra credit. Who doesn’t? I decided to have this book read to me via audiobooks app since I jog everyday and I thought I can save time listening to it while I do my morning jog. The book is very descriptive, very vivid that charcaters almost come to life, like watching a movie. She spent many years observing animal trainers and animal behaviors. Her experience with trainers and how animals behave help her to understand and relate it to human behavior. What I like the most was how she emphasized the concept of different types reinforcement and how it led her to understand herself, her husband’s and her family’s behavior. She mentioned Skinner’s Operant Conditioning, counterconditioning, punishments and reinforcements. She observed that trainers successfully incorporate positive reinforcement to train animals and believed it can be very effective to humans as well. She used specific details from her own life such as her fear of heights and needles. She said that if she is given peanuts with melted caramel every time she step higher and higher above the ground, her fear of heights will eventually desensitized (counterconditioning). Also, if she is given a pair of earrings everytime she gets a needle shot, her fear of shots will gradually disappear. The author and her husband apparently labeled the practice of using the training techniques on each other as "shamuing". "Did you just shamu me?" She also mentioned the Reinforcing Scenario in which we are encouraged to ignore and/or not react to unwanted behavior, which I happened to agree on and was also covered in our psych 211 class. One funny part of the book I like was she categorized her family into different species and subspecies. Why only 3 stars? Although the book is humorous, interesting and practical, she talks more about animals than humans. It’s probably because I am not an animal lover. But, if you love animals and need to work on your relationship, then this is a must book to read for you.

What Shamu Taught Me about Life, Love, and Marriage: Lessons for People from Animals and Their Trainers

by Amy Sutherland

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What Shamu Taught Me about Life, Love, and Marriage: Lessons for People from Animals and Their Trainers, Amy Sutherland