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Truth About Dogs Paperback – Oct 4 2001

3.9 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Paperbacks (Oct. 4 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014100228X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141002286
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.4 x 19.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 113 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #434,574 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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Prepare to have any illusions about your canine companion totally shattered. In writing The Truth About Dogs, author Stephen Budiansky (The Nature of Horses) is determined to uncover the true nature of our beloved beasts, and it's not always a pretty picture. The introduction presents a basic question: why on earth have we allowed these disease-carrying, biting, destructive, and expensive animals into our lives? We know why--it's because we love them, warts and all. So does Budiansky, and once you read past his inflammatory introduction, you'll find a book that presents a new way of looking at old behaviors.

His insistence on the recent evolution of separate breeds, even those generally considered to have originated centuries ago like the Mexican hairless, is sure to be controversial. His interpretation of recent behavioral research may raise some hackles as well, and begins with an examination of pack behavior in wolves. While wild packs have only one dominant male and female, we often expect our dogs to behave submissively to an extended family of dominants--not only can that be difficult, but some of their natural "submissive" behavior can be extremely frustrating. Face-licking is an easy example of this poor conduct; Rover thinks he's showing submission, but Grandma's not thrilled with having an 80-pound shepherd jumping on her. In discussions of more general behaviors, Budiansky's examinations of the motivation levels present in different breeds seems to explain much about the success or failure of obedience training. While you may raise your eyebrows and frown through a few of his assertions, this fresh look at old assumptions makes a fascinating read for anyone who's ever loved a dog. --Jill Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Budiansky, a scientist, former editor of Nature, correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly, and author of six books on animal behavior, including If a Lion Could Talk, debunks many commonly held beliefs about the dog: "most if not all of the conventional explanations of where dogs come from, how they ended up in our homes, and why they do what they do just have to be wrong." No B.F. Skinner behaviorist, he is a firm believer in the influence of genes. Citing scholarly sources and using a sense of humor that allows him to transform some difficult concepts into lay reader's language, Budiansky explains natural selection and the genetic basis of appearance, behavior, social interactions, sensory abilities (i.e., sight, smell, and hearing), aggression, and communication. He questions whether dogs are capable of love and loyalty or whether their behavior is strictly expedient. His answers will satisfy passionate dog lovers and serious scientists alike. Recommended for undergraduate collections serving students of animal behavior and public libraries with intellectually sophisticated patrons. [Budiansky is also the author of The Battle of Wits: The Complete Story of Codebreaking in World War II, reviewed on p. 92.DEd.]DFlorence Scarinci, formerly with Nassau Community Coll. Lib., Garden City, N.
-DFlorence Scarinci, formerly with Nassau Community Coll. Lib., Garden City, NY
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
There are a lot of lousy books about dogs, dog training, dog heroics, dog antics, etc., out there. This book is NOT one of them. Budiansky's thesis is simple: Dogs are dogs; they are not people. Dogs behave like dogs; they do not behave like people. Nonetheless, dog owners persist in thinking of their dogs as people and trying to understand dog behavior in human terms. This type of thinking is detrimental to dog and person alike--canine/human interactions are at their most rewarding when humans treat dogs as dogs. Budiansky goes on to explain dog behavior from an evolutionary perspective. That is, how does (or did) behavior X serve the survival and/or reproduction of the species?
I'd rate this book a five, but I don't follow Budiansky's argument that dogs are wolves in arrested, or altered, juvenile development. He suggests that a genetic by environment interaction took place, but he doesn't lay out the mechanism for such an interaction clearly. His assertions may well be correct, but I would have liked to see more evidence on this point.
Overall, however, I found the science to be concise and engaging. I recommend this book to people who wish to have a humane relationship with a dog and who want a dog to have a canine relationship with a human.
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Format: Paperback
This offbeat, even controversial, book resists the urge to anthropomorphise, which is probably one reason why so many people are upset with this book. To me, his explanations make a lot of sense. He even effectively refutes Rupert Sheldrake's belief that many dogs are psychic.
Another reason people seem to hate this book is Budiansky's twisted Gary Larson-ish humor, which is evidently not to everyone's taste.
A third is probably the fact that he advocates hitting, but only in cases where dominance is an issue between dog and owner. I can understand readers being angry about this, because I think with most dogs a much gentler, albeit still firm, approach is all that is needed. Also, I would think that getting into a dominance battle with a very large dog will likely end with you being sent to the emergency room. Other than that, his advice on training and punishment make a lot of sense, and are NOT the thoughts of a dog hater.
Still, this is probably the best overall book on canine psychology that I have read.
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Format: Paperback
I am the proud owner of two very well trained standard poodles. Proudly they have never been to a training class and I have trained them solely by applying the methods I found in numerous books. The corner stone of training is understanding dog behavior........ After seeing the PBS Nova episode "Dogs and More Dogs" I was intrigued, did a little bit of reasearch and found this book. The author of this book apparantly wrote the episode or something. All I have to say is this book is just entirely outstanding. While the theories about dog behavior maybe be slightly shocking to those of us who flagrantly anthropomorphitize their canine pets (I am just as guiltly as anyone else) it is never the less very true. It should also be said that the theories presented are not groundbreaking or entirely new. With an open mind I believe this book will help you understand the (WHY) of dog behavior. The why being: "Why does your dog act the way they do?" It may help you understand how your dog percieves you and how you may be reinforcing bad habits. But be advised this is not any sort of the training book and will not directly give you help with the (HOW). The how being the how to get them to do what you want and act the way you want them to act. For help in this department check out How to Teach a New Dog Old Tricks by Ian Dunbar ...... Also check out Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson (a little bit elitest but good none the less). In fact How to Teach a New Dog Old Tricks by Ian Dunbar and Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson I believe should be required reading for dog ownership. We would probably have less euthanization and adoption from behavior problems as a result...... Anyway enjoy the book, I think it is worthwhile.
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Format: Paperback
In The Truth About Dogs, Budiansky offers an objective, insightful, and concise analysis of canis familiaris. His is a deliberate effort to understand dogs as they truly are, thus eliminating the anthropomorphic trappings most of us homo sapiens succumb to. He draws from an abundance of evolutionary and behavioral research, which he combines with relevant and oft funny examples.
Budiansky starts by comparing wolves and the scavenger dogs from which modern dogs evolved. He discusses the structure of the wolf social-heirarchy and how it's been altered, but is still relevant in domestic canines. One of the most surprising and controversial assertion he makes is that humans probably didn't consciously domesticate dogs. Instead, it was a case of dogs exploiting humans. Individual dogs that were able to illicit a beneficial response from humans had a survival advantage over less-docile individuals. Humans were (and continue to be) a comparatively easy source of food (and other necessities) and thus certain dogs took advantage of this resources, thrived, and passed on these beneficial traits to their offspring.
After setting the foundation, Budiansky procedes to debunk many of the myths most of us have (had) about canis familiaris. He argues, quite convincingly, that it's an anthropomorphic misconception to project human characteristics on dogs: They aren't loyal, selfless, or posses any number of human-defined attributes. Instead, canine behavior (like the behavior of all animals) is a combination of instinct and environmental conditioning. For instance, when a dog licks your face, it isn't out of love, but instead a show of submissiveness towards someone the dog perceives as a more dominant pack member.
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