Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Genius of Dogs by Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods

384p.
Publisher: Plume
Available Now
Source: Goodreads First Reads Program for review
This New York Times bestseller offers mesmerizing insights into 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. is dog genius revolution is transforming how we live and work with our canine friends, including how we train them. Does your dog feel guilt? Is she pretending she can’t hear you? Does she want affection—or just your sandwich? In The Genius of Dogs, Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods lay out what discoveries at the Duke Canine Cognition Lab and other research facilities around the world are revealing about how your dog thinks and how we humans can have even deeper relationships with our best four-legged friends.
My thoughts:
 This book is more a scientific book, but it reads easily for anyone curious about a dog's cognition abilities. It starts out from where Brian Hare started and why he became interested in the dog's ability to learn. There are times when I did skim because it was basic HS biology (eg: Mendel's Pea experiment) but the parts where he did specific experiments were interesting. Especially those built on explaining the difference between wild animal's cognitive abilities and domestic animals. There are interesting differences.

I especially like the way he criticized both main schools of training thought for dogs toward the end of the book. Those two are generally dominance training and positive training. Neither school of thought has good things to say about the other, but this book brings the specific criticisms based on evidence that I agreed. Neither is perfect and has flaws. My only complaint with this is that if he feels that cognitive training is superior, I would have liked specific examples to this kind of training. This was perhaps not the book for that, but it still would have been nice to see a dog trained with this method.

I give this book 4 stars. It accomplishes what it sets out by introducing the science of canine cognition. You may skim some of the simpler biological parts, but I feel that is there so even those who have not yet taken a biology class can understand why and how he went about his experiments.

Bloggy Note:

Every year I've been having something that celebrates my dog's birthday that lands in Dec. I've been joined by Felicia the Geeky Blogger in the past. I was unsure if I was going to be able to do it this year, but things fell into place and I'll be able to do it again in Dec.

If you would like to join me in doing something for this, give me a e-mail shout. Just put Puppy Celebration in the subject line so I know what it is about. (Example of what I did last year)

What I usually do is have the person do something for animals to be able to enter for the prize. They must tell me what they've done to get that entry. I decided to make a list of organizations for those that don't have a place to start. So, I made a page called Animal Links (above, under the home link button). I was going to put the linky below, but I was afraid that those that don't read this little rambling might put the wrong thing down and think it is a blog hop or something. It is NOT a blog hop, but a list of animal charities, therapy, rescue groups, etc. that take donations and do a great job for animals. 

Anyhoo... *takes breath* sorry for rambling but let me know what you think! :)

PS
Oh and if you have a bunch of books that need giving away... Candace from Candace's Book Blog is doing a book drive to give to the people of the Pine Ridge Reservation. Go HERE for the deets!

20 comments:

  1. oh it must be nice to learn a little more about digs like that. I don't think I ever tried a book like that, but I like to read about each one and how they are.

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    1. It's an easy read. The stories are quite interesting.

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  2. Sounds fascinating, a must for all dog lovers I would have thought.

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  3. Look at that face Melissa! I want him. I love all dogs, but I've always had a soft spot for Great Danes. They're the biggest lap dogs ever:) I'm not familiar with the two schools of thought with regard to training, so I think this would be an interesting read for me. Thanks for your thoughts on it!

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    1. Heh! I got my mom loving danes. She was afraid of big dogs until I came along. :D

      Two schools easy: Monks of New Skete/Old Cesar Milan (he now does both in his practice) and Victoria Stilwell.

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  4. This seems very fascinating. I'm not that great with science, but I have a dog and I'm always curious about her behavior and what it means.

    That's exciting you're doing something for your dog's birthday!!

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    1. Easy for me: What you are doing, stop and come pet my belly! :)

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  5. I would love to read about the difference between wild and domestic learning abilities.

    I trained my most recent dogs with positive methods and some clicker training but I have found that no one method works for everything.

    Sounds fascinating. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. The difference was very interesting. I think you'd really enjoy what he had to say. Especially since you like training dogs. :)

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  6. I just wanted to say how awesome I think your celebration for your dog's birthday is! It is great that you're encouraging people to give back and support animals as part of an entry to your giveaway.

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  7. The event in December sounds like a great cause and celebration. It is a shame there weren't more examples in the book ,but I imagine this would intrigue dog owners.

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  8. This sounds fascinating but I'm worried it's going to make me even more dog crazy than I already am—and my landlord won't let me have a pup! :-(

    It sounds like you're organizing a wonderful event for a great cause, that is so awesome! :-)

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  9. Thanks for mentioning the book drive!

    I watched Cesar Malone the other night on TV and it's just amazing what you can do if you really understand what dogs are thinking. I don't think I would really have enough interest in something like this since we don't currently have any dogs, but it might be the perfect gift!

    The event sounds great too!

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  10. sounds like a good book to read for anyone who is in the market for a puppy. My dog is getting so old it makes me sad.... I will start thinking on your December challenge thingie and yes I am rounding up books for Candace.

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  11. Cool! I don't read much books about dogs. Still it looks good.

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  12. Is this anything at all like that tv show the dog whisperer?

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    1. No, it's not about training but more about studying dogs thinking process.

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