Canine Consciousness and Capabilities
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 Everyone thinks that their own dog is brilliant. Coren has written an intriguing study that will help dog owners to gauge realistically their own dog's intelligence. After discussing the evolution of the dog from its wolf ancestry, Coren looks at the canine and what it has meant in history, its influence on religion, and even its image as harbinger of death. But the meat of the book lies in the author's evaluation of intelligence. He concludes that ``dogs can learn to discriminate over a hundred spoken human words'' and that dogs use different ways of communicating--including barks, growls, and movements of the tail, ears, eyes, and mouth--all in carefully nuanced ways. Coren goes on to suggest that what Americans consider a ``bow-wow'' may simply be the dog speaking in the local dialect; a dog's kiss may ``really mean that it is treating you as its parent and asking for a snack''; ``tail wagging is a completely social gesture. In some ways, it serves the same functions as a human smile''; and urination is a way of saying, ``This territory is mine.'' We are reminded that even today, especially in parts of Asia, the dog is thought of as a form of sustenance and that during the Franco- Prussian war in 1870 the following culinary evaluations were applied: ``Spaniel, like lamb; Poodle far the best; Bulldog coarse and tasteless.'' Coren also presents a 12-part canine IQ test and an obedience personality test that measures the future obedience quotient of a puppy. He also provides tips for teaching and training less intelligent dogs. After a dry, academic start, this becomes an interesting, at times stimulating, manual for the intelligent dog owner.

Pub Date: April 20th, 1994
ISBN: 0-02-906683-2
Page count: 300pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1994


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