Dog Smart


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This cutting-edge science narrative, chock-full of heartwarming case studies, is one woman’s quest to learn the true meaning of dog intelligence.

This delightful narrative takes readers on a powerful search to unlock the secrets of dog cognition, based on evidence from trainers, owners, behaviorists, and the animals themselves. With in-depth reporting and more than a few personal adventures, bestselling author Jennifer S. Holland digs into what intelligence really means.

Readers will meet a pack of genius dogs, each of whom embodies a particular kind of smarts. Holland spends time with Cat Warren, who trains cadaver dogs, to learn about “nose intelligence.” To unpack emotional intelligence, she examines an unlikely dog friendship; to unpack task learning ability, she seeks out an agility trainer. She interviews police-dog trainers (volunteering to be attacked by one in the name of science), service-dog trainers, and trainers who rehabilitates “bad” dogs. And she gets to know breeds that are considered especially intelligent—border collies, cattle dogs, and German shepherds—to discover whether they are truly “smarter,” or just more in tune with humans.

In between field experiences, Holland spends time with dogs in a variety of settings—a rescue center, a dog park, a boarding facility— while pondering the lessons they teach us about ourselves. And she’ll pose entrancing philosophical questions: How do we define intelligence in another being? Where do “instinct” and “intelligence” meet and diverge?

Both surprising and heartwarming, this book is one woman’s quest to understand the world’s smartest dogs—and how they got that way.

  • Released

    May 21st, 2024
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