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For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  2,228 Ratings  ·  142 Reviews
The critically acclaimed author of "The Other End of the Leash" offers fascinating insights into the canine mind—critical tools for a healthy relationship with a well-trained dog.

In this remarkable book, renowned canine expert Patricia McConnell answers the questions of dog lovers everywhere. Do dogs have emotions like we do? More to the point, does my dog love me? Such q
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published October 15th 2006 by Tantor Media (first published July 21st 2005)
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The last book I read by her was all about communicating with your dog, with much emphasis on how humans act around dogs and why some of what we do is just plain wrong. The subject of this book was dogs and emotion.

There has been a lot of debate over the years as to whether or not dogs (and other non-human animals) can have emotions. I recall a philosophy class I once took. The teacher asked us what differentiated humans from animals. Someone said "emotions." He agreed. I dropped the class. I thi
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed the information in this book. Both scientific and anecdotal, it gave me much insight into the relationship between my dog and me, and the world around him.
It was funny in parts, and a little sad in others. Most of the scientific/physiological information was illustrated with stories of her own dogs. She's a very good story teller. Even the complicated info was explained very well, and with vivid examples from the dogs on her farm, and various clients' dogs that she has trained
Joseph Soltero
Oct 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Warmly informative - should be on every dog owner’s shelf

My partner and I have a beautiful and loving Shetland Sheepdog as part of our family. I purchased this book in an attempt to better understand him, why he does the things that he does, how to know if he’s happy, and what I can do if he’s not.

Patricia McConnell writes with such warm concern and intimate tone that you feel as though you’re sharing a cup of coffee or tea with her somewhere. Her writing is lucid and witty, her anecdotes person
Mar 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Josh and I listened to half of this on our road trip to DC. I had already read the book a few months ago. With Charlie in tow in the back of the car, it made for a lovely conversation piece. Josh hasn't read an entire book on dogs (just puppy training), and this was my way of sneaking in some information. We got through the chapter on facial expressions and we are now paranoid that Charlie rarely smiles.
Still, it was a great book to listen to since Charlie was going to be with my two year old n
Aug 07, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I hesitate to give a more substantial rating to this book as I just couldn't get motivated to read further than the preface and about 12 pages more. It really lacked the concise, accessible language I had hoped for and instead delved a bit too deeply into physiology and anatomy of the brain.
Syd Dickson
Jan 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite dog book of all time, I cried at different points in almost every chapter. For the dog lover, this is a must read. It combines anecdotes with scientific data perfectly, and addresses the love that we all feel for our dogs with a frankness that is refreshing.
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a dog lover and one who wants to understand more about what dogs think and feel, I learned a lot from this book. I also enjoyed the illustration section and the several case histories / stories. I also learned that my dog is kind of nervous / anxious around me sometimes. I think it's because she's hoping for a fun outing like a hike or trip to the dog part, but most of the time it's work or something else I'm preparing to do. I can also now recognize the times when my dog is showing fear of a ...more
Kristen Dyer
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish I'd read this book 2 years ago! It helped me understand why, in the aftermath of a dog attack, my young dog, who was not injured, became more afraid about seeing dogs on walks over time (not right away) and why my older dog, who was badly injured, is not afraid of other dogs after the attack.
Aug 31, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned, adult
Garbage. Why can't people just write something simple and straight forward? A lot of blah blah blah to tell you one tiny thing about emotions in a dog.
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dog lovers
I loved this book because I love dogs. If I could, I would adopt every dog that needs a home and love. I am a big fan of those Hope For Paws videos where the dogs are rescued with lots of effort and love, and their souls blosom. A substantial part of this book is dedicated to learn how to "read" in the faces and other physical expressions of dogs. It is very educative and absolutely interesting.

This is my favorite photo of the book: a happy dog side by side with a woman making a happy face. It i
Feb 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: animals
I think Patricia McConnell may be my favorite author of all these dog training books I'm reading. She's willing to accept that not all scholars are believers in dogs' capacity to feel complex emotions like jealousy, and delves into the science of dog (and human) emotions. Some practical advice for fearful and angry dog situations, focusing on rewards-based conditioning.
Sep 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me a while to finish this book, but I really enjoyed it. I would read it a section at a time and then spend a little while processing the information before continuing on.

This book really packs in a ton of information. It is a great book for anyone who is interested in learning more about canine behavior and emotional states. I found it really interesting and well researched. Each time I read a section I stopped to talk about it with my husband or try to observe some things in my own do
Fuyuko Gratton
I liked the book until the very end. I got disappointed in the last chapter that made me rate this book from 5/5 to 3/5. My impression of the book throughout the book except the last chapter was the author was taking "academic-neutral" positions of the various topics....sort of "well let's give a benefit of doubts because there is no hard proof right now." But then in the last chapter, I noticed an inconsistency in her logic of reasonings. In one section she goes:

"The fact that the more complica
Dec 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book, I love McConnell's explanation of the science behind how emotion works in humans and animals. Very digestible. We are so very similar (from the physical structure of our emotional centres to the chemicals that create them, to the ways we express them) only the most narrow-minded can continue to believe humans are not animals. We are, and we behave very much like them. (Even with our much larger cortex.)

The more I come to understand about animals, the more I appreciate them and wh
Aug 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science, dog
Despite the syrupy-sounded lead, this book is a solid exploration of the emotional world of dogs. There's still a fair amount of debate in the scientific community whether animals have emotions, which emotions they have and what they mean. McConnell explores the role of emotion in cognition, laying out the arguments both ways, and citing a number of researchers in the field (notably Demasio). While it's clear she sides with those who believe animals do have emotions, she deftly navigates the unc ...more
Aug 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you love dogs, this is a wonderful read. The author lives on a farm with her dogs and takes you through her journey with them.

Publisher's Summary
Yes, humans and canines are different species, but current research provides fascinating, irrefutable evidence that what we share with our dogs is greater than how we differ. As behaviorist and zoologist Dr. Patricia McConnell tells us in this remarkable book about emotions in dogs and in people, more and more scientists accept the premise that dogs
May 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastically amazing book that any true dog lover should enjoy and learn a great deal from. I love all of the research she has done and other people's research which she has studied and cited throughout the entire book - and even more how McConnell relates it to true events and stories from her own life.

Call it a cop out, but I believe the many important reviews found on its back cover say it best. Here are three out of a myriad of wonderful ones:

"A fascinating, highly educational read. McConn
Mar 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, dogs
This is an invaluable volume for any dog owner. Primarily, McConnell tackles how we can learn to notice emotion in our canine companions, as well as the biological basis for these instinctual responses. Her scientific references are varied and fair, and she handles the complicated subject matter with aplomb, without making it noticeably dumbed-down for those of us without a rigorous scientific background. That said, I was occasionally frustrated with her reference to particular cases, which she ...more
After reading Patricia McConnell's wonderful book, "The Other End of the Leash," which is about why we (primates) act the way we do around dogs and how dogs usually interpret our actions. I recommend "The Other End of the Leash" to any dog owner or want to be owner. I was eager to read more by the same author.

"For the Love of a Dog," is written the same way as her former book, Dr. McConnell begins each chapter with a case scenario from her animal behaviorist practice, Dog's Best Friend, LTD. Som
Jan 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are so many things about this book that I loved, I'm not sure I can even remember them all. I think what I found most helpful is Patricia McConnell's thoughtful and interesting progression through different emotions, similarities in how those emotions are expressed between humans and dogs, and how to better read and understand what your dog may be feeling in different situations. She gave excellent examples from her own work with fearful and aggressive dogs as well as examples of well soci ...more
Jen Blood
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been a fan of Dr. McConnell's work surrounding positive training and animal behavior research for a long time, and this book is a perfect introduction to her work and philosophies. McConnell provides personal anecdotes and well-documented research, as well as her own experiences as a canine behaviorist and trainer, to give readers better insight into the canine mind.

What I love about this book is that the author acknowledges that we, as humans, have a tendency to project emotions and beh
Joe Lynn
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been a dog owner for 35 years, and have been involved in training my dogs for obedience and sport for over 20 of them, so I consider myself to be fairly knowledgeable. But I feel like I gained valuable insight into reading and understanding what motivates my dogs by reading this book. Dr. McConnell goes into quite a bit of depth into interpreting body language and facial expressions, and the pictures are very helpful. (I listened to the audio book, but also had the Kindle version that pro ...more
May 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an excellent book. I am a fan of Patricia McConnell, I think she has the perfect balance between science and fun. "For the Love of a Dog" focuses on the biology of emotion, and what that means for animal, and human, behavior.

Although I enjoyed this book, and found it interesting, if you are to read only one book by McConnell, I would recommend "At The Other End of the Leash". She covers everything a dog owner or dog lover could ever want to know in that book, and she explains it in suc
Rob Rub
Feb 09, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dog Owners
This book is a good read, but really you could clip out about half of it and it'd still be just as good. Half the time the author is blabbering on about how much she loves her dogs, and silly dog stories she has, and honestly, it's like some mother telling you about her kids: Unless you know the kid, you really just don't care. What is interesting is how the dog brain works, the similarities they share with our own, and reading a dog's facial expressions. There's a lot of nuance in reading a dog ...more
May 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"For The Love of a Dog" is about the emotions of dogs and how they are similar, as well as different, from our own emotions. She mainly supports her arguments with biology and experience, as well as a little common sense. McConnell lays out a very strong argument for the existence of emotions in dogs as well as how they work and how they affect our relationships with our dogs. She also talks about how these emotions affect the dog and what we, as their human partners, can do to help when things ...more
Feb 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dogs
This was a very interesting read. McConnell lays out the biology behind emotions; what happens in the brain, what chemicals are present and how they affect the way we feel and how similar chemicals are present in dogs, how human brain and dog brain are similar, yet different and what that could mean for dogs' emotions, with the reservation of the limits of current knowledge, methods and amounts of studies.

I was thrilled about some of the studies she referenced, mostly about one where dog lovers
Apr 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was fascinated by this book. I heard Patricia McConnell talking on the radio about the importance of dog owner's posture and facial cues when dogs are checking each other out at the dog park and decided I wanted to learn more. We learned invaluable basic dog training in Patricia's puppy training classes but now I am enjoying studying my husky's facial expressions and observing the goings on at the dog park with new eyes.

I also learned to teach our 7 year old husky some new tricks, exercise of
Jan 01, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a revelation in helping me understand dogs. There is a wealth of information in this book. If you want to understand dogs, then read this book. If you think you already understand dogs, you probably don't, so you you should read this book. I found the book very readable, and I enjoyed the stories about the author's dogs and her experiences. It's written in a sometimes-conversation and sometimes-textbook style. My only complaint is that the author seemed to repeat herself and the bo ...more
Sep 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dog
McConnell wants us to understand what and how our dogs think. A fascinating topic, to be sure. My only reservation is one of audience. McConnell is a trained academic, and often uses academic tactics to make her point. She frequently references case studies and scientific experiments. This is an excellent thing, in and of itself. The other half of the book wants to be charming, with anecdotes about dogs and very helpful discussions of dog facial expressions. Also an excellent thing. Going back a ...more
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Patricia McConnell, Ph.D., a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, (CAAB) has made a lifelong commitment to improving the relationship between people and animals. She is known worldwide as an expert on canine and feline behavior and dog training, and for her engaging and knowledgeable dog training books, DVDs and seminars. Patricia has seen clients for serious behavioral problems since 1988, and i ...more
More about Patricia B. McConnell...
“We humans may be brilliant and we may be special, but we are still connected to the rest of life. No one reminds us of this better than our dogs. Perhaps the human condition will always include attempts to remind ourselves that we are separate from the rest of the natural world. We are different from other animals; it's undeniably true. But while acknowledging that, we must acknowledge another truth, the truth that we are also the same. That is what dogs and their emotions give us-- a connection. A connection to life on earth, to all that binds and cradles us, lest we begin to feel too alone. Dogs are our bridge-- our connection wo who we really are, and most tellingly, who we want to be. When we call them home to us, it'as as if we are calling for home itself. And that'll do, dogs. That'll do.” 38 likes
“When people visit my farm they often envision their dog, finally off-leash in acres of safely fenced countryside, running like Lassie in a television show, leaping over fallen tree trunks, shiny-eyed with joy at the change to run free in the country. While they're imagining that heartwarming scene, their dog is most likely gobbling up sheep poop as fast as he can. Dog aren't people, and if they have their own image of heaven, it most likely involves poop.” 8 likes
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