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Dog Sense: How the New Science of Dog Behavior Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet

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3.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,745 ratings  ·  244 reviews
Dogs have been mankind's faithful companions for tens of thousands of years, yet today they are regularly treated as either pack-following wolves or furry humans. The truth is, dogs are neither—and our misunderstanding has put them in serious crisis.

What dogs really need is a spokesperson, someone who will assert their specific needs. Renowned anthrozoologist Dr. John Bra
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Audio CD, 352 pages
Published May 10th 2011 by Tantor Media (first published 2011)
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Elaine
May 22, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks
Since I'm writing a book about dogs, I reread this in the light of reams of scholarly articles and books, not to mention documentaries featuring the leading dog researchers in the world today--as well as my own thinking about all matters dog. I am amazed that I originally rated this as highly as I did. Yes,i t is repetitious as I noted before, but now I see also how fallacious it is. Bradshaw seems to have forgotten Occam's Razor: the simplest explanation that accounts for all the data is the o ...more
Laura
Jul 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: NPR
This is in the class of books that I really enjoyed and don’t have the background to critically evaluate. It is also loosely in the category of books exploring the thesis of “yeah, that thing you were taught? That’s wrong.” Unlike many of those books (I’m lookin’ at you, Malcolm Gladwell), it also has a positive thesis. And it’s very positive. “Train dogs with positive feedback. Not just because it’s humane. Because it works, bitches.” Okay, he didn’t put it quite that way. He is English.

Dr. Br
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Lis Carey
It was the best of books, it was--not the worst of books, not by a long shot, but incredibly annoying in places.

This is a serious effort at collecting in one place the current state of the science of dog behavior. Bradshaw discusses the evidence we have for how and when dogs evolved from wolves, as well as what dogs' close relationship to wolves does and doesn't mean for their behavior and needs in human households. For the last century or so, much training and dog management advice has been bas
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Carly
Apr 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I picked this up on audio in my continuing quest to try to understand dogs a little better.
In some ways, I think it makes for a nice companion read to Inside of a Dog. Bradshaw's focus is very different than Horowitz, who focuses mainly on doggy perception and the way the doggy umwelt differs from our own. Bradshaw is rather (too) dismissive of this angle of study and instead seems more interested in the genetic components.

Bradshaw spends quite a lot of the book expressing concerns about purebr
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Brittany
Jun 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who has regular contact for dogs, especially dog owners
Recommended to Brittany by: NY TImes revew
This was another one of those books that ought to be required reading for any dog owner, or for anyone who's just around dogs a lot. However, it's the best of the bunch. Bradshaw, a published and respected scientist who has spent years studying canine cognition walks through the common misconceptions about dog mentality, personality, and behavior. He identifies where they came from, why, and why they're wrong. He doesn't just assert they're wrong and leave it at that, though. He walks through th ...more
Eduardo Santiago
Aug 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who interacts with dogs
Recommended to Eduardo by: vls
The whole “alpha dog” thing is a mistake: dogs aren't wolves, and we should really just forget that whole pack/dominance thing. (Side note: even wolves aren't wolves. The pack model is based on observations in old-time zoos; not necessarily the most natural and stress-free environment). Reward training works better than punishment. And pedigree breeding is harmful.

That's pretty much it. Bradshaw covers the latest knowledge about dog evolution and behavior, entertainingly and with helpful endnot
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Craig
Jul 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, dogs
John Bradshaw is determined to improve dog's lives. This well written, if repetitive, book disproves some common myths about dogs and explains how modern breeding and training are hurting the pets we love. Dog Sense isn’t meant to be a training manual: other authors would better serve someone looking to train their new puppy. Read this if you’re looking for a history of how dogs became what they are and what we can do to help them thrive.

In the first three chapters Dr. Bradshaw explains where do
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Alida
Oct 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is mandatory reading for everyone that deals with dogs. Owners, prospective owners, staff of rescue organizations, fostering families and government officials in charge of making and enforcing policy (city council members, animal control staff, supervisors, etc.) regarding dogs. But the people that I would force to read/listen this book are the idiots of the AKC (and others of that ilk), the commercial breeders and pet store owners that are either clueless or don't give a f!&k as long as th ...more
Martha Burns
Feb 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: biology/sociology fans
For those interested in biology as well as reflections on human-canine interactions. Takeaway: dogs are not mini wolves, whatever their genes say. Their adaptability and lack of hierarchical structure is what made them our perfect companions and treating them as little wolves misconstrues their nature, but does reflect our tendency to project what we want onto animals. Fascinating, thoughtful, and enjoyable to read, though our tendency to resort to cruel or pointless training techniques makes on ...more
Ryan
May 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fic
Fascinating read. I'm a first time dog owner and read this book during the first days of ownership. I'm so glad I did for I'm sure I would have been guilty of some common mistakes owners make in rearing their dogs. The author makes clear from the beginning that this is not a training book, but more of a book about understanding the nature, origin and science of your pet. Equipped with that insight, we can then make informed decisions concerning training and the like. I highly recommend. ...more
Monica Willyard Moen
Apr 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, nls, pets
This book is written by a biologist who has spent most of his career studying how dogs and cats learn, thrive, and interact with humans. His love of dogs shines through in every page of this book as he tells us what science has been learning over the past 30 years about every aspect of the lives of dogs. In the past, many trainers told us that we should view dogs as descendants of wolves and that we should use the analogy of how wolves operate in a pack to understand what dogs want, do, and need ...more
Nancy
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book years ago when it first came out. We had just adopted our first dog in many years, so although I found the material fascinating, it was very new to me. Since 2012, we have fostered 13 Belgian Malinois puppies for the military and adopted 4 of that breed. Therefore, when I listened to this excellent book a second time it hit home on a far more personal level. I have worked with these dogs in obedience and detection so the research on those specific areas made more sense to me tha ...more
Susan Bazzett-Griffith
A well-rounded, though often repetitive book about up to date dog science and training techniques, Bradshae's Dog Sense is not a fun read, but it makes some solid and well-thought out points regarding positive reinforcement training, the vast differences in disposition if dogs and wolves relative to evolutionary biology, and nature vs. nurture ideas. I enjoyed parts of the book, and found his ideas about the need to stop breeding to aesthetic standards due to concerns for the health and well bei ...more
Joe Faust
Dec 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Think that faithful Rover is nothing but a pet sleeping by the doggie door? Then give this book a spin. Early on, Bradshaw tells us that dogs are at once both smarter and dumber than we think - but this book made me wonder about our intelligence as their owners. For starters, we're been oversold on the entire "dog is a friendly wolf" concept (I'm looking at you, Blue Diamond); the chassis might be the same, but they're radically different under the hood. Bradshaw explains why and then takes us o ...more
Eddie Whitlock
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great information. There is a lot of background - which validates the recommendations - but few recommendations. Nonetheless, this is a fascinating book that uses a different theory of "dog think" and offers logical ways of working with a dog from this different premise.

I made the mistake of listening to the audiobook alone, rather than playing it so the dog could hear it, too. If you have a dog, either read the book aloud to him/her or let him/her listen to the audiobook.
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Kirsten
Jan 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: dog lovers
This is an engaging book that explains what we know about how dogs evolved, how their social structures function, how they interact with the world, and how this might be applied to the way we live with our dogs.

The biggest focus of this book is to finally put to bed the notion that 1) dogs act just like wolves, and 2) wolves have strictly hierarchical pack structures, and thus dogs do, too. The idea of the "alpha wolf" has been by and large debunked; new research into wolves shows that most pack
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Pam
Jul 30, 2011 rated it liked it
This book will teach you a lot about where dogs came from but not much about how to enhance your friendship with your dogs.

Dog Sense offers an excellent discussion on the evolution of the dog as a domestic companion to humans and a thorough description of canine social structure. Along with Bradshaw’s thorough dissection of force-based and behavioral training approaches, the book effectively demolishes the myths that “dogs are cute wolves” and that humans must establish dominance over dogs.

But
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Why Dog Blog
Jan 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
By far one of my favorite books, Dog Sense is written by renowned anthrozoologist John Bradshaw, whose unique research on dog-human interactions takes this book to a whole new level. Dog Sense was, perhaps, my first, real look into the world through the eyes of a dog. Bradshaw brings to light a better understanding into the true nature of what it means to be or own a dog in the modern world. It’s a very science-oriented book and quite dense at parts. I had to re-read many thing and get a feel fo ...more
Bill Eger
Aug 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For many reasons this is an important book for those who want to gain a wholesome and helpful understanding of their dogs. It is likely far more helpful for readers who have had dogs on their family for some time rather than those with their first canine pet. The reason for that is the highly technical nature of John Bradshaw's efforts and its best to have some experience with dogs to fully appreciate the knowledge he is offering. His examples need to be understood with your own experience, in o ...more
Lauren
Jun 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: doggies
Though I agree with others who state that Bradshaw was at times repetitious, esp when it came to the chapters comparing dogs to wolves, I believe this book was excellent. I wanted to stop my fellow dog-owners on the streets and say, "hey, read this! Seriously you will understand your dog so much better!" Bradshaw brings up excellent questions/ideas at the end of the book concerning the future of dogs and how we as humans can help them adjust to a rapidly changing world. For me, this book was key ...more
Hoss
Jan 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Lots of great findings from the latest research in canine cognition, and how those findings relate to the various dilemmas of dog companionship. Contrary to the accepted wisdom promoted by trainers like Cesar Millan, dogs are not merely domesticated wolves, and they are not inherently wired to seek "dominance". In fact, even wolves themselves aren't quite wired the way we thought. Bradshaw also touches upon some alarming findings in the lack of genetic diversity of so-called "purebred" dogs, and ...more
Joell Smith-Borne
Mar 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfic, dog-training
Some really interesting stuff about the connections, or lack thereof, between wolves and dogs, and about dog cognition, but the author goes over some ideas repeatedly. The last couple of chapters didn't make sense to me--after spending the first 3/4ths of the book explaining how dogs are NOT that closely related to modern American grey wolves, he builds a whole chapter on how modern purebreds are handicapped by their inabilities to replicate modern grey wolf body language (because they have shor ...more
Kate Baldwin
Nov 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very scientific and thorough overview of dogs in general, beginning with their ancestry and how that should or shouldn't play into our training and relationship with them. It also offers some great insights on how modern dog breeding has really changed/destroyed some breeds and even how dogs relate to each other. For example, docking tails limits how that dog is able to communicate with other dogs because those other dogs can't "read" its body language. Very, very interesting material here. ...more
Melissa Hasley
Jul 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
Awful. Painfully awful. Seems to take small bits of info and build huge assumptions.
Kelley
Oct 26, 2020 rated it liked it
You better love dogs, science, the idea of purebred dogs, their breeding, dog training and dog rescue before you delve into this one. Luckily I do! The author makes good points on a variety of dog things, and I do believe we treat our dogs like mini-humans and many dogs don't do well with that, but at the same time, most dogs don't get do what they were bred for and taking on the role of family pet, hiking buddy, or the luckier ones that get to delve into dog sports that let them use their worki ...more
Solita
Dec 16, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Science give us answers, but not all of them. So, we guess, surmise, presume and believe something until more research renders former assumptions and beliefs moot.

This guy often contradicts himself. And he's repetitive. Something many reviewers have noted.

I most hate when people claim that human intelligence is superior, or higher, than animal intelligence. Human intelligence created an island of plastic waste in the ocean. I saw a clip from a documentary where some people extracted a plastic
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Emily
Apr 22, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Audiobook.

It was good. Not quite what I was expecting though. For those without a behavior or scientific background it may be too much science and research talk. It even really was for me and I have some background in these studies. I wanted it to be more about how I can better train my dog, share information with clients at work, and how we can understand our dogs. I guess someone with no knowledge would’ve learned something, but I personally didn’t.

What I learned was a lot of facts that I di
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Cyndi Cross
Jan 13, 2019 rated it liked it
*sigh*
Al authors who advocate Positive Training methods, always automatically assume that balanced trainers believe in punching, kicking, jabbing, beating, smacking, ear pinching, or otherwise harming the dog in some way (rubbing nose in feces or urine, etc) in order to train a dog - nothing could be farther from the truth. They all bag on Cesar Millan (who rehabilitates - not trains) as if he advocates this type of behavior .... They assume that using a choke collar or slip lead is used to make
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Sunshine Biskaps
Jan 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
"Dog Sense: How the New Science of Dog Behaviour Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet"
by John Bradshaw

I enjoyed reading this book, however found it full of scientific information and research that was not helpful to me becoming a better friend to my dog. Bradshaw was very repetitive in the book about pedigree dogs. The small section about dog communication was good, but I wanted more useful information on how to understand my dog better. I didn't need all the research details.

This book remi
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Piet
Oct 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Some chapters are for scientists: DNA studies about relationships between dogs and wolves, coyotes and jackals and dogs.
There are also many concrete chapters about various aspects relating to dogs like emotions, breeding programmes, punishment versus rewarding, sight and smell and a dog's intelligence.
In short a more or less panoramic view of the phenomenon dog.
Quite often dog shows are mentioned as negative elements for the future wellbeing of dogs.
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John Bradshaw is Foundation Director of the Anthrozoology Institute at the University of Bristol. He lives in Southampton, England.

Librarian’s note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

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