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The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter than You Think

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  2,433 ratings  ·  281 reviews
The international bestseller that reveals the amazing mind of your favourite friend

Is your dog purposefully disobeying you? Probably, and usually behind your back. Should you act like ‘top dog’ to maintain control? No, you’re better off displaying your friendliness – and not just to your dog. Which breed is the cleverest? That’s the wrong question to ask.

These are just som
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published February 5th 2013 by Dutton Adult (first published January 1st 2013)
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Dec 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
It is difficult for me to find good dog books. I have been reading them for years and years, both fiction and non-fiction. Non-fiction has to give me something new. Fiction has to capture the immense love I feel for my dogs, and that is pretty darn hard to do.

This book of non-fiction gave me food for thought. It taught me things I had not known before. It has already helped me rethink how I communicate with my dog. What has been learned about dogs in the last decade is more than all that learne
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
I sympathize with Brian Hare. When you love dogs this much (as much as I do), it's hard to know when to shut up about them. He seemed to suffer from this problem in his book. I was looking forward to reading it, because I've been enamored with his research, but I'd say it's mostly a pass. The book regurgitates a lot of canine cognition studies that are old news by now (particularly to those of us in the know, regarding canine research) and cannot stay focused at all. The wildly divergent topics ...more
Brian Hare is, hands down, (what does that mean?) the best science writer I have ever read. Since I have read a great number of science books and journals over the past 60 or so years, and I'm a stickler about writing, that is high praise.

It's not that he writes about simple things. Everything he discusses is based upon careful experimental design. He explains, in detail, in vivid, flowing narrative without ever dumbing it down. Moreover, he brilliantly theorizes from the data he presents.

I loved this book. And I rather enjoyed it as both a textbook and also a page-turner.
The book was written in non-fiction classical style. Which was done beautifully by the talent of Dr Hare's writing skills. He simplified complicated cognitive science's concepts, without losing much of the accuracy in the way.

Also, he used many ways to narrate his point: by using fully abstract reasoning, personal anecdotes and analysis of scientific literature and mixing all that in a beautiful way that made th
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If you only read one dog book this year, let this book be the one.

I read a lot of dog books. I'm always on the hunt for a book that will increase my knowledge of dogs. Almost always, I am disappointed. Usually, books are too anthropomorphic, or dogs are underestimated. Some books are so far into feel-good attitudes that they completely ignore the truth about dogs. At their very worst, these book are written about the author's own (sometimes first) dog, with sweeping generalizations about the res
Aug 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A friend recommended this book when he heard we were dog-sitting our daughter's 5 month-old puppy for 2 weeks. I enjoyed the book and, as a previous dog owner myself, found a lot of the factual content fascinating. The author is a behavioural anthropologist and, as such, is good at relating the experiments in behaviour carried out by his own group and others. This occupies much of the first half of the book but I found the second half, when he deals with the broader facts about dogs and our rela ...more
Mar 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
For all that I love dogs and intend to always have at least one (and preferably more) dogs, I don't actually read many books about dogs and their behaviour. I think it comes down to The Intelligence of Dogs, Dogs: A Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior & Evolution, Inside of a Dog, and now this.

Not terribly surprisingly, Hare references the latter two (quite frequently) and Coren gives this book a glowing review on the cover (I'm a little surprised that he didn't get referenced
Mar 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
This is a very good book from authors who know a ton about dogs. However, it was too academic for me and I couldn't finish it. I was fine with the long history lesson, but then I wanted the authors to tell me how dogs think and how to interact better with my new puppy. I ran out of patience when they continued to discuss so much research. If you love text books, this is for you. If you were hoping for fun stories about how smart dogs are, skip this!
Libros Prohibidos
Nov 27, 2014 rated it liked it
For dogs lovers. Complete review (in Spanish):
Apr 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dogs, non-fiction, science

The review you might expect to see next to my star-rating here might well be something along the lines of, "If you love dogs, you'll love this book!" But that would be oversimplifying things, as well as underselling. You might not love this book if all you're looking for is a compilation of amazing smart dog stories. What Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods actually do in The Genius of Dogs is provide a surprising wealth of information about cognitive science, both among dogs and primates, in a breezil
Peggy Tibbetts
Mar 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Anyone who has ever shared true companionship with a dog has wondered: Does my dog think? “The Genius of Dogs” not only asks, but answers the question. Co-written by husband and wife research team Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods, this book focuses primarily on Hare’s lifetime evolution into anthropology and his research into animal cognition. In order to distinguish how dogs think, Hare researched how other animals think including humans, bonobos, chimpanzees, wolves, foxes and cats. Then he compar ...more
Feb 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Although it goes a teensy bit off-topic at the end, talking about what different cultures think of dogs (why? someone tell you to make the book longer?), it's still a great, readable book that covers in depth a lot of the work that came into media focus a couple of years ago.

Hare is the guy who showed that dogs do what chimpanzees, bonobos and wolves don't, but human babies (and puppies) do - understand what a human pointing means.

He talks, too, about a wonderful fox-domesticating experiment in
Jun 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dog-books, 2013-read

This was well written and a fast read. I've read about this author's work in some of the other dog books I've read, and I enjoy his findings, especially his experiments on pointing. Especially that dog friendliness is not some horrible characteristic, but part of their brand of intelligence. According to studies dogs prefer to be in the company of humans if given the choice between humans and other dogs. I just love dogs. This book celebrates some of their unique treats while acknowledging their
May 13, 2013 rated it liked it
I'd give it 3 1/2 stars if he had mentioned how your librarian could help you track down all the (oddly referenced) literature he cited. Instead he just tells you to try Google Scholar or sending a note to the author. Another academic who doesn't use his library, I'm guessing.

Oops, I got distracted there. I did enjoy learning more about dog behavior.
Leigh Matthews
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I finished the Dognition course on Coursera last month and found this book useful as additional reading material. Some really interesting research and fun games to play with your pup, all of which translates into a good beginning for appreciating the way most dogs approach problems and see the world. Great for nerds who love dogs, and probably pretty good for dogs who love nerds.
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Far better than I thought it would be. Not sentimental tripe but well cited popular science and evolutionary biology.
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Why reading: Brian Hare contributed to the brilliant children's book Fox Talk: How Some Very Special Animals Helped Scientists Understand Communication and this is all that I can find by him for lay adults.
So far so good; preface and first chapter convince me of the rigor of the science, plus it's engaging.

But now I'm at an interesting chapter break. Claimed is that early humans (like almost all humans throughout history and prehistory around the world) are afraid of wolves, and that wolve
Carie Steele
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
An excellent book about dogs and their relationship to humans. This book is particularly excellent in its review of the broader literature on cognition and discussing how different studies relate to one another. In fact, the author's placement of his own own studies of dog cognition within the broader literature and discussion of the relevance of the literature as a whole is so well done, I will be using it as an example in an upcoming class.
May 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Format: Hardback
Original Publication Date: 2013
Genre(s): Nonfiction, Science
Series: NA

Brian Hare is a professor at Duke University’s Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. He lists his primary research topics as Domestication, Human Cognitive Evolution, and Social Cognition. His research subjects are primarily the great apes and dogs. In The Genius of Dogs, Hare and his wife Vanessa Woods focus on the uniqueness of the domestic dog’s cognition.

The book is divided into three parts: Brian’s Dog, Dog
Conor Warren
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book! I've owned dogs all my life but have never understood the how or whys to what they know nor the extent (and limitations!) of their knowledge and understanding.

The critique of Skinner was a nice little touch and the writing was personable, informative, and a fun read. Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods did some really great research in putting together this highly accessible and engaging work.

Also, keep in mind that while it does utilize academic research and has an academic tint to i
Mar 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
An engaging and most enjoyable book by Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods of the Canine Cognition Center at Duke University, who have studied dog behavior at leading research centersworldwide . They argue that dogs are "geniuses" (superior to similar animals) in understanding visual gestures of humans and in learning human words. Some of this material was already familiar from nature shows on educational T.V.; some was not.

The author believes that dogs "self-domesticated" rather than being intentiona
Steve Woods
Feb 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dogs
For anyone who has a dog they think might be smarter than they are or for anyone who thinks they have a dog that is smarter than everyone else's dog this book is a great read. It blows all those misconceptions out of the water and opens up a greater understanding of what dogs are all about. Tjhe book is really well written to present the results of research in a form that the average dork can relate to, I needed that; at 65 anything beyond an advertising jingle tests my remaining functional brai ...more
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This audiobook was both a fascinating and fun listen! It was definitely the highlight of my commute - and brightened some household chores as well! I first encountered Hare’s studies in a magazine article and later in a documentary special (on PBS, I think). And though there was more context into the studies, there wasn’t quite as much detail and new information as I had hoped for. Despite some of this overlap, though, this was still a very interesting listen. The authors offered more of a histo ...more
Feb 16, 2014 rated it liked it
I can appreciate that this book is offered on the level of primary research, as this is someone who actually does studies and experiments in dog cognition, and I also appreciate the scientific patterns of thought, how behavior influences evolution and not vice versa, but I must admit that this became a somewhat lackadaisical read after very long. There do seem to be sections that are really simply trying to make this a long enough book to sell, as it gets into more travelogue sequences of times ...more
Apr 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm going to say really liked it because I am a dog person and I really like dogs. :) I also really like scinece and experiments. There are some things that felt a little repetitive or a little drawn out, but overallit was just really interesting -- all the things you assume about dog behaviour and the anecdotal things we believe about dogs come to light in some ways. A lot of dog behaviour is still very unclear and the book seems to indicate that research can say what you want it to say (which ...more
May 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
I can't help comparing this to the much, much better book on dogs by Alexandra Horowitz that I read last year. Maybe it's because this book seemed geared toward almost... Kids? Like middle school? (He defines the term "canard" for example) The entire tone of the book is really unattractive to me.... He keeps repeating how smart dogs are if you define smartness in a really particular way. It was almost condescending. Towards dogs. Which is a weird thing to say! Anyway, there is some interesting i ...more
Jan 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Genius of Dogs is fascinating, fun, and filled with remarkable history and research from around the world in the growing field of "dognition." Understanding a dog's cognitive learning styles can help us understand their behavior, train them more kindly and effectively and give them better lives. As a professional dog trainer, I have been waiting for this book for over 10 years. It bridges the gap between Pavlov, Skinner, and the most recent revolutionary discoveries in canine cognition. A mu ...more
Amber Polo
Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dogs
Wonderful research and writing. Give this one to all your dog loving friends.
Could find an audiobook edition to add to.
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I checked this book out, but I was pleasantly surprised. Brian tells a few stories here and there of his own research, as well as other scientist’s research about not only domestication, but also in the cognition of dogs. Like any true dog lover, though, he does take a chapter at the end to dispel the idea of breeds having certain behaviours as well as stress responsible ownership of a dog (such as don’t buy from pet shops, always spay/neuter, etc.). However the ...more
Morgan Bruss
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As a dog lover, this book was a fascinating and informational read. The author first reviews research on the possible origins of dogs, their historical relation to humans, and possible pathways to domestication. He explains the nature (and limitations) of intelligence, how dogs perform on a variety of cognitive assessments, and how their results relate to those of other animals (ex. feral dogs, wolves, domesticated foxes, cats, chimps, bonobos, etc). Through an informal meta-review of research i ...more
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Brian Hare is Associate Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Duke University, where he founded the Duke Canine Cognition Center. His research on 'dognition' has been published in the leading journals. With his wife Vanessa Woods, he cofounded the new dog intelligence testing and training company Canines Inc. To find out more, visit the Dognition website.

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