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Dogs: A New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior and Evolution Paperback – October 1, 2002
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The first core topic that dogs evolved first as scavengers of human waste dumps is interesting. While still largely a speculative hypothesis, this idea is shown fairly well in the book to be more reasonable than the idea that humans got a hold of enough wolves to domesticate them by selecting the tamest ones and tossing the others. This has implications for training in that essentially sedentary dogs foraging at a dump are not going to have wolf behaviors, particularly the widely assumed pack hierarchy.
Another major topic is the discussion on why working dogs, with strongly ingrained motor patterns of behavior, are not going to be well suited for living in a house - unless you like being herded by your border collie. This too is well done and promoting the option of a more "generic" dog as a better household companion will do much good. There is also a section on how assistance dogs suffer by being bred and developed in manners inconstant with what makes for a good working dog.Read more ›
Section 1 discussed a concept called commensalism - a symbiotic relationship that is good for one species but does nothing for the other. This is, ultimately, how the author believes dogs developed from wolves. The common idea is that humans took wolf pups from the wild, tamed them, and made them pets and working dogs. But Coppinger sites a lot of evidence to the contrary. He believes that dogs basically domesticated themselves once human beings turned to more agricultural pursuits be becoming the sort of village dogs you see in some cultures (he studied the island of Pemba, off the coast of Africa) feeding off the dump. The wolves who had less of a flight response to humans could feed more often and were able to produce while the others did not. Eventually they ended up as these 30 lb village dogs. In some ways, it makes sense. People have tried taming and domesticating wolves in sanctuaries and it never really works. They have to tame each generation and they're only just barely habituated and definitely not domestic. I thought this was really the best section of the book.
Section 2 discusses a concept called mutualism -- a relationship where both members benefit. He discusses three major "jobs" dogs can have: livestock guarding, sled pulling, and herding. He seems to have the most respect for the livestock guardians, who are bred to do nothing more than stay with the sheep and bark when an intruder (usually a coyote or wolf) begins to stalk the sheep.Read more ›
The reader will have to set aside bias about dog 'breeds' as canine genetics takes front seat. Further, some issues about 'breeds' run counter to what many people believe about their fine registered pet. This is often what happens when science bumps into belief.
This is an excellent read for anyone with an interest in humans, dogs, science, and the planet. It just happens to be about dogs.
Speaking of behavior, the discussion of the genetics of behavior in this book is nearly incomprehensible, and I'm still not sure what the point was. That behavior has a genetic component cannot be denied. Their examples of why certain breeds aren't good for particular jobs continually confuse physical limitations with behavioral ones.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Don't waste your money or time on a book written by the man who did more damage to Livestock Guardian Dogs in this country than anyone else. Read morePublished 8 months ago by LGD Nevada
Begining good info! Then blah blah blah sled dogs blah blah blah..then good dog infoPublished 11 months ago by steve cimonetti
The publication date is 2002. There are much newer books with much newer data available. I would read this not as education, but as entertainment.Published 11 months ago by Steve Cripe
I had to get this for class and was thinking it would be another dry read book. I was wrong. I haven't got very far yet but what I have read has been nice and entertaining to read.Published 18 months ago by Ahnna Gordon