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Review of a Dog Behavior Book

Dogs: A Startling New Understanding
of Canine Origin, Behavior & Evolution
by Raymond and Lorna Coppinger | Click here to order this book

This new book on the origins and behavior of dogs by Raymond and Lorna Coppinger is going to make some dog trainers get their hackles up. Trainers who base their methods on the concept that a dog is just a wolf in civilized clothing will be especially upset, because the Coppingers say they are simply wrong. Click to continue reading the review.


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     Review of a Dog Behavior Book, continued [ Top ]

Dogs: A Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior & Evolution
by Raymond and Lorna Coppinger

The Coppingers admit that there is "no appreciable differences" in the genetics of coyotes, dogs, jackels and wolves, and note that these species can interbreed. Still, they say, "dogs have diverged, changed, transmutated from their wolflike ancestors."

Thus, training programs that say the owner/trainer should be the "alpha wolf" and the dog a subordinate member of the pack is wrong, because dogs are not wolves.

Order this brand new book on dog origins and behavior!
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Dogs:

A Startling
New Understanding
of Canine Origin,
Behavior & Evolution

The brains of dogs are different from the brains of wolves, just as the brains of humans are different from the brains of chimpanzees, a close relative, they argue. Dogs don’t think and react to signals as wolves do.

Ray Coppinger, who has trained hundreds of sled dogs and sheepdogs, says it is wrong to treat our best friends like wolves. "Asserting dominance over one of my favorite working dogs by pressing it on the ground and snarling at it is preposterous." He stresses that he doesn’t want his sled dogs to roll on their backs and urinate like a subordinate wolf every time he shows up.

This is just one of the ideas presented in "Dogs: A Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior & Evolution," published by Scribner of New York, 2001.

Dogs Tamed Themselves -- for the Resources

The second key idea in the book is the concept that dogs evolved from a wolf ancestor in order to feed at human waste dumps. In a sense, they partially tamed themselves, for those that adjusted to eating near the presence of humans were able to make full use of the waste food resources and reproduce, while those more fearful could not. Domestication likely started with these partly tamed canines, not from the capture of wolf pups.

The Coppingers make the case for these novel ideas through detailed exploration of the world’s village dogs, as well as through a look at sled dogs, livestock protection dogs, assistance dogs and more. People who love working dogs will find the book fascinating, if at times disturbing. The Coppingers examine the human-canine bond with a critical eye, asking if the relationship is truly good for human beings and for their dogs.

While sections of the book are technical in nature, overall this book is easily read by dog lovers interested in the origins and evolution of the dog, and how that development effected canine behavior. This is certainly the most important book on dogs of the new century, and is essential reading for anyone who breeds and trains dogs. We’ve read it once, and expect to read it again more than once. We recommend it highly.

Review by Barbara B. Petura, WorkingDogWeb.com Webmaster
Member, Dog Writers Association of America

AUTHOR: Raymond and Lorna Coppinger have a combination of real life dog experience coupled with scientific knowledge and expert writing skills that makes this book a truly exceptional one. A professor of biology at Hampshire College, he has raised hundreds of both sled dogs and sheep dogs. She is the author of The World of Sled Dogs. Toether they founded Hampshire's Livestock Dog Project.

PUBLISHER: Scribner, New York, 2001.


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