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How To Speak Dog: Mastering the Art of…
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How To Speak Dog: Mastering the Art of Dog-Human Communication (2000)

by Stanley Coren

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Coren very systematically looks at the "language" of dogs- how well they understand spoken human words and human gestures, or can be trained to do so. What the wide variety of sounds they make specifically mean, plus all the different uses of body language, and the combinations thereof- which can vary meaning and nuance more than I had realized. How cross-communication works, why cats and dogs are classic enemies (many of their basic body signals mean opposite things). How dogs communicate with scent (hilarious story in here about a man who tried urinating around his wife's flower bed to deter neighborhood dogs from digging in it). He uses scientific studies, personal observations and carefully examined anecdotes to demonstrate the discussed communications (or miscommunications, as it were). Even points out why some methods used by humans to dominate their dogs, or teach them who's "leader of the pack" such as flipping a dog forcefully on its back or biting it on the nose (!) are misguided and won't get the result you want. Through it all there are interesting passages on the evolution of dogs, comparison of dogs to wolves, comparison of dog intelligence to that of children (about equal to a two-year-old's, although their concerns with social status and the doings of other dogs are more adult in nature), descriptions of studies on animal intelligence and communication with other species.

To sum it all up- yes, dogs have their own form of language. They understand a lot, and can read incredibly subtle body language... I was surprised at how many kinds of dog expression are often misunderstood by humans... Fascinating stuff. A book I think every dog owner should read.

from the Dogear Diary ( )
  jeane | Feb 19, 2015 |
A great book that I love is "How to Speak Dog". It does not tell you how to have a convo with your dog or anything silly like that. What it does do is go into in depth body language of a dog. How wolves communicate with each other through body language....and how we can mimic a little. It was one of the best books I read.
Cairo's Mom
  dobermantalk | Nov 11, 2010 |
"How To Speak Dog" by Stanley CorenPostscript ONE LAST WORDThere is one sound that dogs make which I have not included in my discussion of Doggish vocalizations. I didn't include it because it is an automatic sound, which probbably was not intended by either evolution or the gods to be communication at all, but it has come to mean something to me. It is the sound of dogs breathing. At night, when I lie down to sleep, myoid dog Wiz lies on the bed beside me, while Odin lies on a cedar chip pillow on the floor close by my head. Just across the room, my puppy, Dancer, who is not quite fully house-trained, sleeps in his wire kennel. In the quiet and the darkness, sounds are amplified. I can hear the low, slow breathing of the big black dog, the short breaths of the orange puppy, and the occasional sniffle and snore of the old white dog. As I listen to those soft sounds, I think of some earlier man, lying in a cave or rude shelter, resting on a bed of hides or straw. It was a hostile, dangerous world. Weapons were primitive, resources often sparse, and there were menacing things that moved in the night. That long-gone ancestor also had dogs who lay beside him as he tried to sleep. His dogs breathed these same sounds and these sounds had meaning. They were not merely part of the language of nature - they were the sounds of safety and comfort, a recitation of the dog's eternal contract with humans. "I am here with you," the dog's breath said. "We will face this life together. There is no beast or intruder that can steal up on you undetected because I am here, and I will be your eyes and ears. No harm will come to you because I am at your side to warn you, and to defend you if need be. "We will hunt together tomorrow. We will herd together tomorrow. We will share the sunshine tomorrow. We will explore this world together. We will laugh together. We will play together, even though neither of us is any longer a child. "If luck turns bad, then when you grieve, I will comfort you. You will never need to be alone again. I promise this. As your dog, I will sing this promise to you, and whisper it to you at night, every night, with my breath." I can hear these words in my dogs' soft sounds of breathhing, and, just like my ancient ancestor, I understand these words and I am comforted. In my heart I know that if the language of dogs were so limited that this was the only message they could send, it would still be enough. The book contains much interesting and useful information for people who interact with dogs and this information is presented in a relaxed, free-flowing, easy-to-read style. But what I most value is the clear light of Stanley Coren's gentle and respectful love for dogs which illuminates every sentence he writes but which is most clearly exemplified in the closing paragraphs which I have quoted. ( )
  RhydTybyans | Apr 20, 2010 |
Stanley Cohen writes in a very personal, easy to digest manner about how to read the body language and vocalizations of your dog. Some of the chapters are "The Dog Speaks", "Body Talk", Tail Talk", "Eye Talk" and even "Dogs Talking To Cats". It has thorough behavior descriptions with wonderful insights on how to communicate effectively with your pet.

Should not be used as your only guide if you are new to dog training, best as a companion to a more formal training "how-to" guide.

Personally, I loved this book. It helped me understand my dogs' behavior and vastly improve their training, in a short amount of time. I finally realized that it was I producing mixed signals which confused my message. What a revelation...and so easily solved too! ( )
  HunyBadger | Apr 12, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 074320297X, Paperback)

An invaluable language manual for people who need to communicate with dogs, How to Speak Dog is far more than a simple training guide. Author Stanley Coren discusses at length the evolution of language in many species, and focuses as much on body language as he does on verbal communication. This is a man with his own theories on language development--when disagreeing with Chomsky or Darwin, he backs up his arguments with plenty of thorough, firsthand experience.

Separate chapters devoted exclusively to interpreting the movement of tails, ears, and bodies are fascinating, and can often provide surprisingly quick insight into canine behavior. There's a tremendous difference between showing affection and showing dominance, and humans have a strong tendency to misread our dogs' behavior and reward them in exactly the right way to ensure the continuation of frustrating behavior. Coren maintains that dogs can often learn far more words than we give them credit for--certainly, we've all seen pooches go bananas at the words walk and cookie, but he also suggests we watch for learned behaviors from certain words. Perhaps office gets your spaniel waiting by the door, or baby results in your terrier checking in on your child's location--you may just think it's cute, but actually, it's a sign of your dog's linguistic ability.

Whether you own a dog or two or work in the field of animal care, this manual will be a most informative read and is sure to have a positive effect on the relationship between you and man's best friend. --Jill Lightner

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:42 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

At long last, dogs will know just how smart their owners can be. By unlocking the secrets of the hidden language of dogs, the author, a psychologist, allows us into the doggy dialogue and makes two-way communication a reality. For the first time, instead of receiving an incomprehensible mash of mixed human signals, man's best friend will be treated to the proper use of dog language. Finally, effective communication can take place between canines and these "strange tall dogs" who have mystified them for so long. Building on research into the simplified language of "baby talk" (that nearly universally recognized "motherese" with which mothers speak to their infants), the author provides insights into the structure and form of the simplified language that many dog owners use to communicate with their pets. A better understanding of this language, "Doggish," is the key to improved two-way communication. The book provides not only the sounds, words, actions, and movements with which we can effectively communicate with our dogs, but deciphers the signs that our dogs give to us. By giving us the information we need to interpret the wagging of their tails, the flapping of their ears, the movement of their bodies, and the lapping of their tongues as much as their barks, the author allows us into their rich world of communication, giving dog-lovers the skills they need to improve their relationships with their pets. As every owner will admit, dogs have an uncanny ability to respond to nuances of human speech. Although actual conversation of the sort Lassie seemed capable of in Hollywood mythmaking remains forever out of reach, research and observation show that a great deal of real communication is possible beyond the giving and obeying of commands. This book explores the limits of dogs' language abilities and charts the possibilities. It gives owners the key to interpret correctly not only information but emotional states. With easy-to-follow tips on how humans can mimic the language dogs use to talk with each other, it provides a surprising and fascinating window into the world of dog communication, why they speak and what they talk about. Drawing on substantial research in animal behavior, evolutionary biology, and years of personal experience, the author demonstrates that the average house dog can differentiate between 60 and 140 words, though some research suggests that dogs can hear many more and also pick words out of sentences and respond to them. This work examines people's beliefs about the ability of their dogs to communicate and contrasts those with the scientific reality. As the author shows us, the gulf is more narrow than many people think, and the rewards of bridging it are endless.… (more)

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