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The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter than You Think Hardcover – February 5, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult; First Edition edition (February 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525953191
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525953197
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (190 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Several monikers on the 2012 list of most popular puppy names (Max, Charlie, Lucy) have a comforting familiarity. As pets become integrated family members and people develop deeper bonds with their dogs, it makes sense that the owners would choose to name a pet as they would a human child. Loyalty and companionship are basic needs that a faithful, loving pooch can provide, but how well do you know what your dog is thinking? What motivates his actions, and how much does he actually learn through human cohabitation and observation? Husband-and-wife authors Hare (a professor of evolutionary anthropology and founder of the Duke Canine Cognition Center) and Woods (a research scientist and author) present their extensive scientific research on dognition (a playful portmanteau for dog cognition) in an informed and fetching style while pointing to the domestication of man’s best friend as evidence of dogs’ unique social intelligence and the survival of the friendliest. The Genius of Dogs will fascinate any dog lover who longs to gain a better understanding of our devoted canine friends. --Chris Keech


“Many authors have tried to anecdotally capture the emotional bond between humans and dogs. Here at last is a book that digs deep into cognitive science to unravel the mysteries of the canine brain. Thoroughly researched and written in the likable voice of a brainy scientist sitting at your kitchen table, The Genius of Dogs is a fascinating look at what goes on between the ears of the animals we share our lives with. I found it entertaining, fast-moving, and filled with gee-whiz insights that gave me a new appreciation for the complex social intelligence of man’s best friend.”
—John Grogan, author of Marley & Me and The Longest Trip Home

The Genius of Dogs is a fantastic book. It makes it very clear that there are different kinds of intelligence. All dog lovers should read this book.”
—Temple Grandin, author of Animals Make Us Human and Animals in Translation

“The definitive dog book of our time by the researcher who started a revolution.”
—Daniel J. Levitin, author of This is Your Brain on Music and The World in Six Songs

“A masterful account of the way science is revealing just how smart dogs can be. Fascinating and highly readable.”
—John Bradshaw, University of Bristol, author of Dog Sense

“With the help of some wolves, Russian foxes, New Guinea singing dogs and a Labrador Retriever named Oreo, Brian Hare tells us about his fascinating search for an understanding of how dogs think and communicate.”
—Stanley Coren, author of Do Dogs Dream and Born to Bark

“Based on Brian Hare’s game-changing research, The Genius of Dogs brilliantly explains the canine mind and in doing so illuminates the natural history of all intelligence. This book will captivate anyone interested in dog, ape or human mentality.”
—Richard Wrangham, Harvard University, author of Catching Fire

“This is the best book in existence, by far, for learning about the recent revolution in our understanding of the minds of dogs. And its fun, too.”
—Mike Tomasello, Co-Director, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

The Genius of Dogs is not just about dogs, and not just about genius. It’s an exciting detective story by two comparative biologists with amazing discoveries to report.”
—Bernd Heinrich, author of Mind of the Raven

“A fascinating, riveting, utterly engaging romp through the mind of man's best friend. I promise: You will never look at your dog the same way again.”
—Maria Goodavage, author of Soldier 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." - Library Journal

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Customer Reviews

Great book for a dog lover to read!
Debra Haddad
This book is very well written and, although it is relatively scientific, the author makes it an easy read and keeps it interesting.
I expect quality
I bought this book after reading it several times in a bookstore.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 76 people found the following review helpful By V.Morell on February 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Dog owners know their dogs are smart. Yet they were banned from animal cognition studies for years; researchers thought they must not be very bright because they were domesticated animals. But, as Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods show in this highly engaging and insightful book, dogs are really geniuses. They're not soft and dim compared to their wild wolf cousins--they're geniuses! Why? Because, as the authors write, dogs "were smart enough to come in from the cold and become part of the [human] family." Their book presents the latest studies on dog smarts, and you'll come away with a new appreciation for your pooch--and the scientists who broke away from their own pack to investigate the minds of our best and brightest friends.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By movingwordsandimages on April 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book because Victoria Stilwell recommended it. In fact, treat trainer that she can be, I'd love to read her honest and full review of this book if one is available...

This book is really quite engaging from the beginning through halfway into the read. The essays build a case, chapter by chapter, towards the most fascinating part (in my opinion) called "Survival of the Friendliest," which looks at the evolution of dogs - and humans - in a way that I've never heard of. It really is fantastic food for thought.

However, the book's title points to another supposedly revelatory finding in the area of dog cognition or "dognition." And, having finally arrived at its application for us dog owners/handlers, the section was disappointingly thin, just one chapter titled "Teaching Genius" that runs about 30 pages. And this came at the unnecessary expense of pitting itself against Behaviorism (a.k.a. reward-based training or clicker training). There's even a section very unfortunately named "The Tyranny of Behaviorism." Really, tyranny?

This poor choice of words and perspective really does the author's writing a disservice. Behavioral training has done A LOT to advance the methodologies of the everyday trainer. For generations prior, well-meaning but totally misinformed people applying Dominance theory were beating and choking their dogs half to death. The Behavioral approach has given tools that regular people (not just elite scientists and researchers) can understand and use. It's proven to work, it's safe, and has improved the relationships of many households with their pets. How is that tyranny?
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60 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Merritt on February 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Highly entertaining and a joy to read, The Genius of Dogs artfully blends the remarkable and unlikely journey of dogs and humans with new insights into how dogs evolved into the highly intelligent and cooperative creatures that live and work with us in every corner of the world. Throughout, Hare and Woods share the latest and most relevant research on canine cognition, but also fascinating personal accounts from Hare's life that steered him towards researching canine cognition. Much focus is placed on the past 10 years of research which has popularized and revolutionized the way we look at dog intelligence. As a professional, science-based dog trainer, my hope is that the information contained in The Genius of Dogs provides dog enthusiasts with a new understanding of how to help dogs navigate through the world with us successfully.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By R. Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on April 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Here is a book of real, cutting-edge science that will be accessible to anyone. It's reporting of genuine scholarship, it describes experiments in detail, it has graphs, and it's got seventy pages of footnotes at the end. The reason the science here goes down so easily is simply the subject matter. _The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter Than You Think_ (Dutton) is by the founder of the Duke Canine Cognition Center Brian Hare and his wife Vanessa Woods, a research scientist at the center. It tells about how dogs got to be partners with humans with advantages to both sides, what dogs can figure out and how, what dog breeds are smartest, and much more. The book is written in the first person with Hare being the person; he affably describes how much he learned as a kid from his dog Oreo. A professor told him that chimpanzees could not understand human gestures, and Hare blurted out, "My dog can do that!" The professor didn't shut him up, but encouraged him to do research, and Oreo was his first subject. The book invites all of us to have some scientific fun learning what our dogs can do, and the authors have set up a website to help with home research that will supply broad-based data for their team.

The experiments described here are fascinating, all the more so because there is a "try this at home" attitude. It is surprising how involved the research had to be in order meticulously to weed out alternative explanations. For instance, Oreo had a choice of two cups, under one of which was a treat. Naturally, Hare the experimenter had not put food under one without faking putting food under the other. He settled himself between the two cups, and pointed to the one hiding the food. "Okay, Oreo, go find it!" he said, and Oreo went to the cup pointed at.
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