Synopses & Reviews
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.
Dogs are intelligent — no other animal comes as close to humans — but most of us tend to think domestication makes animals less intelligent. Brian Hare sees things differently. In 1995 he conducted a simple cognition experiment in his parents’ garage and proved that his family’s dogs were not only smarter than any wolf or fox but also smarter by far than any ape or chimp. Since then, the Canine Cognition Center he founded at Duke has studied thousands dogs and changed the way we think about canine intelligence. Hare’s stunning finding: dogs domesticated themselves beginning at least forty-three thousand years ago, and it has made them smarter. Friendlier dogs (and humans) can better solve problems by cooperating and communicating.
The Genius of Dogs is in part a journey across a phenomenal scientific career, hopping from Georgia to Russia to the Congo and back to the United States, told with boyish enthusiasm and a personal, engaging voice. 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 mutt, Oreo, to the most fashionable schnoodle. This is nothing less than the definitive dog book of our time, a guide to how the latest research can enrich your relationship with your dog, from the man who started the revolution.
"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." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"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
"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 mans best friend." John Grogan, author of Marley and Me and The Longest Trip Home
About 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.