Trish McConnell takes a look at canine emotions and body language. Like all her books, this one is written in a way that the average dog owner can follow but brings the latest scientific information that trainers and dog enthusiasts can use. Learn about similarities and surprising differences between the canine and human brains and how current scientific studies have led the author to conclude without a doubt that dogs share a profound emotional life with us. A must-read for ALL dog lovers.
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APDT CHRONICLE OF THE DOG
Many dog lovers will be surprised to learn that controversy is still swirling in scientific circles about whether and to what extent dogs experience some of the same emotions and feelings that human beings do. As an applied animal behaviorist with a Ph.D. in Zoology, author Patricia McConnell wades into the fray, building her case that dogs do indeed share human emotions, by examining similarities in the anatomy and physiology of canine and human brains. In the process she provides readers with an introduction to how our own brains function, and with some of the recent fascinating developments in the world of neuroscience. The first chapter begins with an exploration of emotions and why some scientists still question whether non-human animals actually experience them. The second chapter, about emotional expressions, discusses how both human and canine emotions and feelings are reflected in facial expressions and body language. A photo section illustrates the distinctive facial features and body postures that accompany various moods and feelings. Unlike other books and articles I have read on this same subject, McConnell's descriptions were so detailed and intriguing that they inspired me to make several trips to a near-by doggie daycare facility to sharpen my observational skills; I wanted to actually see such things as tongue flicks while watching dogs interact with one another. This chapter alone earns the book a place in every dog trainer's library. However, trainers may also have a special interest in what McConnell has to say regarding the value of positive training methods. For example, on pages 105-106, McConnell explains how proper use of food in training will help wire an animal's brain to associate listening to the owner/handler with actually feeling good. In contrast, force and coercion stimulate fear centers in the animal's limbic system, resulting in the animal learning to associate the trainer with possible danger and to react accordingly. Subsequent chapters delve into the relationship between brain development and behavior, and explore the biological foundations for the most basic emotions - fear, anger, and happiness. Of course this book would not have been complete without taking a look at the complexity and depth of the emotional attachments that can exist between people and their canine companions, which many people, including the author, unabashedly call love. McConnell's signature warm and witty style, coupled with a novelist's knack for telling a good story, is much of what makes this such a compelling read. From the introductory opening scene on her farm where she describes how her Great Pyrenees, Tulip, approached the dead body of her favorite ewe, Harriet, to a later one relating how an old man began to weep in her office at the thought of having to euthanize his dog, McConnell could be saying to her readers Welcome to my world! It is this willingness to share the personal experiences she has had with her own clients and dogs, as well as some of her private feelings, including her grief over the death of her beloved dog Luke, which breathe life into her book and give it such a unique character. As a result I was able to connect with this book about emotions on a profound emotional level. Beverly Hebert