The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter than You Think

( 13 )

Overview

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...

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The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter Than You Think

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Overview

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.

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  • The Genius of Dogs
    The Genius of Dogs  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

As early as 40,000 years ago, dogs domesticated themselves, beginning what was to become humankind's strongest and longest cross-species bond. Dog researcher and evolutionary anthropologist Brian Hare and his journalist/author wife Vanessa Woods (Bonobo Handshake) have devoted much of their lives researching and writing about the social intelligence of animals. In this revelatory book, they share what recent breakthrough science is teaching us about the brains about our four-footed companions.

Publishers Weekly
Arguing against the common assumption that a domesticated animal is somehow also a weaker, less intelligent one, Hare and Woods present a scientific study that doubles as a warmhearted tribute to man’s best friend. The authors evaluate animal intelligence primarily on the basis of a species’ success in surviving, finding the canine intellect on that count to be closely suited to coexistence with humans. Domestication has resulted in animals “more like infants than wolves” that can make inferences about human behavior and learn human vocabulary. Dogs also read our gestures, anticipate our desires, and better the quality of our lives, receiving food, shelter, and care in return. Observing that humans do not invite many other mammals to live in our homes and even sleep in our beds, Hare and Woods suggest that dogs earned this coveted spot by being our friends—a phenomenon they dub “survival of the friendliest.” The pair find that the human- canine relationship is not as one-sided as it can sometimes seem, but delivers such benefits to humans as alleviating loneliness, lowering blood pressure, and relieving stress, while they also touch on their research’s implications for our own species. (Feb.)
Kirkus Reviews
Hare (Evolutionary Anthropology/Duke Univ.) and Woods (Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the Congo, 2010) delve into the rich cognitive world of dogs and how they domesticated themselves through natural selection. Dogs are the authors' special subjects--Hare founded Duke's Canine Cognition Center, and Woods is a research scientist there--and they examine the scientific studies of dogs' communication skills (from visual signals to categorization), their empathy and cooperative talents, between their ability to infer, find solutions and display flexibility. But one question the authors tackle with the greatest vigor: Why the dog at all? If dogs evolved from wolves--which were threats and competitors of humans in the carnivore guild--why did domestication become an option? What forces drove it? Hare and Woods clearly reintroduce readers to the old garbage-eater-on-the-outskirts-of-camp theory of wolves and man finding common ground but from a very specific angle. It was the friendliest of the wolves, those that could coexist with humans, that benefitted from this stable food supply. A relaxed wolf, one that had come to understand the communicative intentions of human behavior, was a wolf with more offspring. It wasn't long before wolves started to change physiologically. Their breeding cycles changed, their heads became smaller, they became distinctive to the human eye and could be ignored or encouraged. "Humans did not set out to domesticate wolves," write the authors. "Wolves domesticated themselves. The first dog breed was not created by humans' selection or breeding but by natural selection." Interestingly, the same anatomical signatures that differentiate dogs from wolves are seen in bonobos and chimpanzees and humans and their forebears. A well-presented investigation into how dogs came to be.
Library Journal
Husband-and-wife team Hare (evolutionary anthropology, Duke Univ.; founder, Duke Univ. Canine Cognition Ctr.) and Woods (Bonobo Handshake) begin their book with a history of the domestication of wolves some 10,000 to 40,000 years ago and enthusiastically posit that dogs' social intelligence developed as the friendliest wolves formed working and relational bonds with humans. Hare is a pioneer in the field of cognitive ethology (the study of animal behavior under natural conditions) who uses psychological experiments to explore canine intelligence. His research has led to significant discoveries about how dogs understand intention and inference, read human gestures, understand words, follow gaze and pointing, and solve problems through demonstration. VERDICT Along with recent titles like Jon Franklin's The Wolf in the Parlor: The Eternal Connection Between Humans and Dogs, Hare's thoroughly researched, enjoyable work will find an appreciative audience. This is essential reading for dog lovers and those who enjoy psychology and social sciences relating to animal behavior, communication, and training.—Susan Riley, Mamaroneck P.L., NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525953197
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 2/5/2013
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 276,566
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

BRIAN HARE is a professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Duke University, where he founded the Duke Canine Cognition Center. VANESSA WOODS is a research scientist at the center as well as an award-winning journalist and the author of Bonobo Handshake. Hare and Woods co-founded Dognition.com, a service that helps you discover how your dog thinks. They are married and live in North Carolina.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 13 )
Rating Distribution

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(8)

4 Star

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(3)

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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 5, 2013

    The Genius of Dogs is a wonderful and fascinating account of not

    The Genius of Dogs is a wonderful and fascinating account of not only how dogs have evolved through their close affiliation with mankind for thousands of years but also how far science have come in understanding their unique genius (thus the title!).

    Dr. Hare is a well-known and respected dog cognition researcher at Duke University and together with his co-author Vanessa Woods they explore a wide range of scientific findings about dogs (while also dispelling some myths and "truths") - not only limited to their own research but polling from hundreds of other scientific papers, research projects and studies – yet in a fun, engaging and conversational style.

    I can warmly recommend this book for anyone who's interested in understanding not only dogs as a species, but also what may make your furry friend dog tick; his or her unique genius!

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 5, 2013

    Whether you're a dog person or one of those odder birds -- cat p

    Whether you're a dog person or one of those odder birds -- cat people -- this book will entertain and educate you. 

    There has been such a sea change in how scientists have come to think of dogs (is some ways catching up to what owners have always known), and this book details the what's and the why's of the story.  It makes you think of dogs with renewed appreciation, while also marveling at how our own minds work. 

    Great read for any dog lover (or even a cat lover) you know. 

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2013

    GENIUS NEEDS TO BE EMPHAZIED

    Great book!!! The cover picture tells it all. When your dog looks at you, you always wonder what they are thinking. This book tells you how they are observing us crazy humans and can and will imitate us. They are brilliant in how they function and this explains it all. They are one of the greatest creatures on the face of the earth. Kudos to the author and this great book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 13, 2013

    I found the book readable. The authors described all of their do

    I found the book readable. The authors described all of their dog-intelligence experiments in layman's terms. I also learned why wolves evolved into dogs and became our best friends.

    For whatever reason--maybe because I often think my dog is smarter than I am, maybe because the dog on the cover is so darn cute--I picked up the book in hopes of discovering new ways to bond with my own dog. Instead I got bored with all the dog-experiment descriptions.

    Some of the experiments were quite entertaining, particularly the one where a handsome young Frenchman asks girls for phone numbers with and without his dog and records his successes with each. But in the end, to my un-scientific way of thinking at least, too many experiment protocol descriptions made the reading tedious. The book also didn't tell me enough about how to use the experiment results to further my relationship with my dog.

    A more science oriented reader who wants to validate all the research that's been done on dog intelligence will enjoy the book much more.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2013

    Gave as a gift--was happily received

    I can't wait to read the whole book--got it to give as a gift after hearing a great interview on WHYY "Radio Times" with one of the book's authors. A heartening approach to human-dog relationships, corrections of common misunderstandings (re. packs), and compelling discussion about dogs and how really smart they are.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2013

    Dissapointing

    I found that the book dealt too much with his view of evolution of man then of dogs. Obviously not a Christian. the experiments were interesting and his stories quite amusing. I can't say it was one of those books I would pass on to others or could not put down. I am almost done with it and have no real desire to finish it. It will probably be put into a thrift sale and sold for a lot less then I paid for it.

    0 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 2, 2013

    Just OK.

    I was a bit disappointed in the book. I guess I didn't realize it would be so clinical. I was hoping the information would be presented in a more entertaining format.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted March 18, 2013

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    Posted February 12, 2013

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