Dog Smart: Life-Changing Lessons in Canine Intelligence

National Geographic. May 2024. 304p. ISBN 9781426222719. $30. PETS
Dogs do so much, and there’s no question that they can be smart. They can track missing persons, detect disease, alert for seizures and panic attacks, retrieve items for people with physical disabilities; guide people with low vision, count, “speak” (using preprogrammed buttons), find corpses, comfort witnesses during court proceedings, calm patients at nursing homes and hospitals, share their humans’ grief and joy, make them laugh, and so much more. Imagine what could be accomplished if humans and dogs understood each other even better. Author Holland (“Unlikely Friendships” series) offers compelling evidence from expert studies, along with field experiences, interviews, and anecdotes, to demonstrate the overwhelming level of intelligence possessed by dogs, showing how their anatomy and physiology combine with instinct, breeding, and training to create the animal that we know and love. When humans define canine intelligence based on the way dogs process information and their subsequent assistive response, we can tap into their talents and harness powerful mutual improvements in the quality of life for both dogs and people.
VERDICT An engaging, compelling synthesis of the ways scientists study and document canine cognition; this will be enjoyed by all dog lovers.
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