At least that’s what a new book implies. The book by Amy Sutherland, is titled “What Shamu Taught Me about Life, Love and Marriage”. A recent article on had this to say about it;

Attention, frustrated wives: if you want your husband to start listening to you and stop leaving his socks on the floor, all you need is a little patience and a lot of mackerel. Such is the putative relationship advice of Amy Sutherland, a journalist who spent a year at an animal-trainer school and decided to apply the trainers’ techniques to her husband’s annoying habits. According to Sutherland, the key to marital bliss is to ignore negative habits and reward positive ones, the same approach animal trainers use to get killer whales to leap from their tanks and elephants to stand on their heads.

Sutherland says she practiced the “Least Reinforcing Scenario” with her husband when he fell back into his everyday habit of stomping around when he couldn’t find his keys. Basically, the least reinforcing scenario employs planned ignoring, meaning in this case she didn’t offer her help to find the keys. She also admits to putting out snacks at the other end of the kitchen in order to keep her husband from “hovering” around while she is cooking, a technique she refers to as “incompatible behaviors”.

While Sutherland believes that the techniques can work for those little annoyances in a marriage, she also said that she’s doubtful these methods will work with serious marital problems such as “lack of communication or sexual incompatibility”.

I’m pretty sure most women have a good grasp of some of these techniques, we just don’t refer to them as animal training methods. However, if you want to brush-up, you can pick up a copy here. Just don’t let you man find it, lest the ‘fur may fly’.



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    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 17 Feb 2008
    Published on All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Bechdel, J. (2008). Want the perfect husband? You may have to train him like a…whale.. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 1, 2014, from


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