• The Genius of Dogs

  • How Dogs Are Smarter than You Think
  • By: Brian Hare, Vanessa Woods
  • Narrated by: Fred Sanders
  • Length: 7 hrs and 58 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (521 ratings)

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The Genius of Dogs

By: Brian Hare,Vanessa Woods
Narrated by: Fred Sanders
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Publisher's Summary

The perfect gift for dog lovers and fans of Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz - this New York Times best-seller offers mesmerizing insights into the thoughts and lives of our smartest and most beloved pets.

Does your dog feel guilt? Is she pretending she can't hear you? Does she want affection - or just your sandwich? 

In their New York Times best-selling book The Genius of Dogs, husband-and-wife team Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods lay out landmark discoveries from the Duke Canine Cognition Center and other research facilities around the world to reveal how your dog thinks and how we humans can have even deeper relationships with our best four-legged friends.

Breakthroughs in cognitive science have proven dogs have a kind of genius for getting along with people that is unique in the animal kingdom. This dog genius revolution is transforming how we live and work with dogs of all breeds and what it means for you in your daily life with your canine friend. 

An Audible for Dogs Pick: Make your dog's day. Cesar Millan shares how audiobooks can make dogs happier and calmer. Learn more.
©2013 Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods (P)2013 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about The Genius of Dogs

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Misleading title- My guess is that the Published

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.

32 people found this helpful

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Interesting view on social behaviorism

Any additional comments?

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.

22 people found this helpful

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Wonderful Overview of the Latest Research on Dogs

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!

16 people found this helpful

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Barking Up The Wrong Tree

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Yes, I would make the contents of the book, more supportive of the title.

What was most disappointing about Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods ’s story?

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.

What about Fred Sanders’s performance did you like?

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.)

Was The Genius of Dogs worth the listening time?

Yes, because the anthropological information and research findings, though disjointed and contradictory, are well presented and convincing.

Any additional comments?

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.

11 people found this helpful

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Try the Coursera class too

What made the experience of listening to The Genius of Dogs the most enjoyable?

It's well written, very informative, cutting edge information at this time and inspirational.

What did you like best about this story?

Inspiration on what a true scientist is - one who's willing to truly ask the question that go against what they believe to be.

Which scene was your favorite?

The bit about working with the foxes in Russia and great way he designed a study to work with animals who are known for not liking people as well as the ones who had hardly been touched but because of selective breeding jumped right into their arms.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Take the dog Emotion and Cognition course with the book. It's free.

5 people found this helpful

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Absolutely Fascinating!

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.

3 people found this helpful

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Boca is a genius! We knew it all along...!

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!

3 people found this helpful

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Excellent book

If you are a lover of fog flesh this is a book you must read. It will help to distinguish between bad behavior and doggy behavior. You will be gripped with the complexity of these fine creatures. Before the book I was pretty convinced that God absolutely had his best day when he made th dog. Now I am carry sin of it.

2 people found this helpful

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So much more than just about dogs!

What made the experience of listening to The Genius of Dogs the most enjoyable?

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.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent!

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.

1 person found this helpful