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 as early as 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.
©2013 Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods (P)2013 Penguin Audio
I loved The Genius of Dogs. It provided a wonderful overview of the latest research on dogs--their evolution, intelligence, training, and status in human societies. I am interested in evolutionary biology so I enjoyed Brian Hare’s discussion of dogs and humans from his perspective as an evolutionary anthropologist. I was familiar with a lot of the material from other sources, but this book presented it in a unified format and created an updated image of dogs and our relationship with them.
The author credits an observation of his his boyhood dog, Oreo, with deciding the course of his academic and professional career. Yet he avoids the pitfalls of anthropomorphism common with many authors of dog books. He adored Oreo and his other dogs, but he loved them as dogs, not as furry human beings. He discusses canine talents, but also explains some of the shortcomings of their unique cognitive abilities. For example, dogs are excellent at reading our intentions, and “a dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” But dogs are not capable of feeling guilt when they steal food or mess in the house. We humans often perceive their affect and behavior as guilt, but experiments have shown that is not the case; they are sensing our displeasure and reacting in a submissive way to it. It is important in living and working with dogs that we understand what they are and what they are not.This book is helpful in providing that insight.
I listened to the audiobook, but I intend to take a very close look at the print version as well. There are studies cited that I want to read and points made that will require additional reflection than is possible with audio alone. Clearly I found this book very worthwhile. It presents recent scholarly information on domestic dogs clearly and in a manner easily accessible to the layperson. However, for readers seeking a feel-good, happy pet dog story, this is probably not the one to pick up. For all others, I highly recommend it!
knew a title such as "Evolutionary Anthropology" would probably NOT sell as well as a title like the "Genius of Dogs".
Let me be clear - it is a solid book- really focused on the theory that "Self" domestication accounts for the biological and behavioral traits seen in Chimps, Bonobos, Wolves, Dogs and Humans and is well told- weaving these theories and experiments around stories from the author's child hood and his "on the ground" experiences and experiments with various animals.
Although "cognition" and his dog "Oreo" play a central part in this book- it is decidedly NOT a book about the Genius of Dogs. I probably would have given it a four or five had it been appropriately titled- but had it been appropriately titled I would not have purchased it- so the published was correct.
If you are looking for a book on the evolutionary impact of aggression or non aggression on certain species and some interesting theories (one of which is that human evolution and survival was dependent on dogs- not the other way around) then buy this.
But if you are looking for a book focused tightly on dogs and how they think and their behavior- go else where.
Having said that I am not going to ask for my money back- I enjoyed the book and learned much from it.
This book was not really a book on dogs, but more a broad book on the development of domestication and socialization of species, dog, chimps, humans.
It was interesting but if you are just looking for something focused on dogs you may want something else like Dog Sense by Bradshaw.
The way the topics were covered by including personal stories and by moving quickly from one species to another for comparisons made what could be very dry information fascinating and fun. I learned so much about much more than just dogs, including people, and had a great time too.
This audiobook was both a fascinating and fun listen! It was definitely the highlight of my commute - and brightened some household chores as well! I first encountered Hare’s studies in a magazine article and later in a documentary special (on PBS, I think). And though there was more context into the studies, there wasn’t quite as much detail and new information as I had hoped for. Despite some of this overlap, though, this was still a very interesting listen. The authors offered more of a historical perspective and also studies that showed conflicting results. Though the author’s obvious affection for dogs might seem like it would obviously skew the results, their devotion to the scientific method and maintaining genuine objectivity was still quite evident.
Amongst the clear descriptions of experiments, the authors offered anecdotes and examples of dog genius outside of the lab. I especially enjoyed the section of speculation on the true history of the domestication of the wolf and development of the dog. The conversational style worked well in the audio format, and I sincerely hope that the authors continue to publish their findings in this mainstream medium. While the narrator was not the most dynamic, his voice worked well for this non-fiction topic. A physical format, though, would lend itself better as a stepping stone for further independent research, so I will be keeping an eye out for the physical format as well. All in all, though, this was a great listen and I will continue to follow their research into dog-nition.
Yes, I would make the contents of the book, more supportive of the title.
The title lead me to believe it would be stories supportive of the idea that Dogs are Geniuses (much like the book "Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home" by Sheldrake). Instead it comes across as an anthropological dissertation of domestication in wolves, feral dogs and canine pets. Interspersed in that information (which is very well presented, yet seemingly inappropriate) are examples of how dogs are, and are NOT, geniuses. There just doesn't seem to be any logical flow to the book or its content, so for the moment I stopped listening to it.
It was easy to listen to and didn't take away from the subject matter. (I've listened to books where the narrator's voice was annoying and so I was always reminded it was being read to me.)
Yes, because the anthropological information and research findings, though disjointed and contradictory, are well presented and convincing.
Maybe if I had the hard copy of the book I could see the index layout and understand the authors logical flow for the information, and having that would also allow me to have a reference in the future for the anthropology parts of the book.
But read this book and you'll understand why. I'll cut to the chase: Canine genius manifests itself in dogs' ability to 'read' humans even better than most of us read each other!
I am a canine professional, as well as one of those people who are crazy in love with their dogs. I so enjoyed learning about how dogs particular forms of intelligence came about as a process of co-evolution with the rise of humans over the last 15000+/- years. I'm especially glad that we're learning how to recognize canine intelligence, and understand its strengths and limitations. My hope is that we'll become much better at generating realistic expectations of our dogs, and developing new ways to maximize the potential for how dogs and humans can make one another's lives better. Brian Hare's book is a giant step in the right direction, and I'm grateful to have read it!
A must read for all dog owners and potential dog owners. Dispels all the myths and rumors and presents the reader with facts and research. Great way of explaining the research by the author in ways the reader can understand.
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