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The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter…

The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter Than You Think (edition 2013)

by Brian Hare (Author)

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219888,321 (3.86)4
"Brian Hare, dog researcher, evolutionary anthropologist, and founder of the Duke Canine Cognition Center, and Vanessa Woods offer revolutionary new insights into dog intelligence and the interior lives of our smartest pets. In the past decade, we have learned more about how dogs think than in the last century. Breakthroughs in cognitive science, pioneered by Brian Hare have proven dogs have a kind of genius for getting along with people that is unique in the animal kingdom. Brian Hare's stunning discovery is that when dogs domesticated themselves around 40,000 years ago they became far more like human infants than their wolf ancestors. Domestication gave dogs a whole new kind of social intelligence. This finding will change the way we think about dogs and dog training--indeed, the revolution has already begun. Hare's seminal research has led him to work with every kind of dog from the tiniest shelter puppy to the exotic New Guinea singing dog, from his own childhood dog, Oreo, to the most fashionable schnoodle. The Genius of Dogs is nothing less than the definitive dog book of our time by the researcher who started a revolution"-- Provided by publisher.… (more)
Title:The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter Than You Think
Authors:Brian Hare (Author)
Info:Plume (2013), Edition: 1, 384 pages
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The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter than You Think by Brian Hare



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» See also 4 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
This book is loaded with a history of reasearching dogs. All kinds of interesting facts from the beginning of time. ( )
  whybehave2002 | Nov 8, 2017 |
Though it mentions a number of studies, it is not a scientific survey or study; although it covers the author's development of the importance of studying dogs and, in particular, their interaction with people, it is not a biography. It's a hybrid that will teach you some new things about dogs and is also quite approachable. The downside is that it's written for about an eighth grade reader and lacks the meat a more serious book would have. When I had to leave it, I rushed back to resume reading, but ultimately I felt unfulfilled and wish there were more to it. ( )
  jimcintosh | May 11, 2016 |
*book received through GoodReads giveaway*

I can't be the only person out there who, despite greatly enjoying reading books dealing with science, often has a hard time trudging through them because of the dense argot that they employ. On the flipside, it is very easy for a book like this to turn into an anecdotal portrait of the author's dog extrapolated onto the canine group as a whole. Count your blessings: this book belongs in neither of these camps. John Grogan put it best when he said it is "thoroughly researched and written in the voice of a brainy scientist sitting at your kitchen table".

Among other topics, Hare discusses the unusual relationship between man and wolf, the lineage of the dog, Belyaev's fox-breeding experiment, the importance of intraspecies cooperation in the survival of a species, the extraordinary ability of dogs to read the intentions of humans, the minute genetic differences between the vast majority of dog breeds, the poor treatment of dogs in many societies (in the USA and abroad), and the interdependence of dogs and humans. All of these topics are bolstered with numerous references to studies and thorough (yet not exhaustive or overwhelming) analysis.

Hare does include anecdotes, but they are not meant to be "the last word" on any aspect of dog intelligence, so much as a way of relating to the facts that you read by adding a personal touch and coloring the path that the author took. For every anecdote in the book, there are references to about ten studies. The information he presents is not merely telling people what they are likely wanting to hear; in fact, there's a whole chapter devoted to a list of skills that have been dulled during the wolf-to-dog transition.

As an animal lover and an inquisitive person, I really picked up a lot from this book and appreciated the vast amounts of research and dedication that went into it. I didn't always agree with the conclusions that the author drew, but he still gets full marks because he was quick to tell that they were just opinions and not unequivocal. ( )
  crsini | Jan 13, 2015 |
The authors, both scientists of canine cognition, explain the results of scientific testing about how dogs make inferences and solve problems, and they also share interesting research and theories about the effects of domestication. The findings are presented in an entertaining way and provide lots of background on wolves versus dogs, as well as interesting insights into what your dog is really “thinking.”

Some highlights:

Perception and projection skew our assessment of dog characteristics. For example, “…contrary to popular belief, there is no experimental evidence that dogs experience the feeling of guilt or that they have a human-like concept of guilt. Currently we only have evidence that dogs react to their owner’s frustrated behavior.” That is, the dog may understand you are stressed, and this in turn will stress the dog, but it is too much of a leap to identify this response as guilt.

Pit bulls are blamed for most dog-bite-related incidents, but many people incorrectly identify aggressive dogs because of their preconceived beliefs about pit bulls. One study found that people blamed pit bulls for “a notable proportion” of 84 dog bites in children, even though the actual rate was only 13 percent. Yet another study showed that, when shown pictures of an identical dog appearing in one picture with a scruffy looking owner versus another with a nicely dressed owner, people were more likely label the first dog as the aggressive one, even though they were looking at the very same dog.

Even adoption agencies can’t be relied upon to tell breeds apart; in one study they were asked to identify a series of dogs. Then blood samples of those dogs were sent for DNA analysis. The breed was misidentified two-thirds of the time.

Domesticated dogs and foxes, as well as bonobos (similar to chimpanzees but much less aggressive) are different from non-domesticated close genetic relatives both in terms of their social skills with each other and in the nature of their interactions with humans. In addition to a less aggressive demeanor, other traits seem to have accompanied domestication, such as smaller body size and sometimes floppy ears and curly tails.

It is believed that bonobos domesticated themselves; the authors speculate that early humans might have gone through a similar process. Maybe it wasn’t the smarter people who had the survival advantage, but the friendlier people - those most apt to cooperate with others. Cooperation can lead to better food, better protection, and more knowledge sharing, all of which would help contribute to higher intelligence. As the authors suggest:

"Before humans could become ultra-cooperative, we had to become ultra-tolerant. This tolerance preceded the evolution of more complex forms of human social cognition. Inferential reasoning, planning, and skills for coordination do little good in planning for hunting or finding shelter if no one can tolerate engaging in group activities or even listening to what others have to say. … [S]elf-domestication may have … catalyzed an evolutionary chain reaction leading to the evolution of completely new cognitive abilities…”

At the end of the book, the authors reverse the focus of the book and include a small section on how humans react to dogs.

Evaluation: This book will interest ethologists and dog-lovers alike. ( )
  nbmars | Jun 15, 2014 |
A terrific book for dog lovers (or for those interested in evolutonary biology)! Hare and Woods take the reader on a tour of how dogs developed as a species, but more specifically how and why they, and not other animals, became our "best friend."

There is a little dry description of some of the tests and experiments with dog cogntion, which slows the book down very slightly but definitely does not detract from the enjoyment,

Hare personalizes the book by including anecdotal information and stories about his own dogs, including Oreo, the very first one he ever owned. ( )
  bettewhitley | Oct 18, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brian Hareprimary authorall editionscalculated
Woods, Vanessamain authorall editionsconfirmed
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