How Dogs Work will be a treasure to those with more than a superficial interest in the behavior of dogs, be that of pet, working, sled, feral escaped , or wild ones.
It is a scholarly text based on many years of research and reflection that will be enlightening for the most demanding professionals in the field and college or university students in zoology, as well as fully accessible to any educated layperson with more than a passing interest in dogs, wolves, coyotes, jackals, dingoes, and related canids; the volume is an absolute must for dog trainers. In this book, the authors present cutting-edge findings, conclusions, and reasoned speculations on canid behavior that is sure to challenge many of the more simplistic, wishful, or otherwise inane views all too prevalent in the popular and scientific literatures on dogs.
The interacting roles of evolution, genetics, and training and thus the balance between nature and nurture are fully explored. In the second book, What Is a Dog? It turns out that all of these identifiably distinct forms can mate with each other to produce fertile pups. Thus, following Aristotle and Linnaeus, they should all be considered as being a single species, Canis lupus or possibly even Canis familiaris —with the different kinds within that taxon therefore all merely being subspecies of that one species.
Indeed, that seems now to be a prevailing opinion among a number of animal taxonomists and systematists. Our domesticated companion pet dogs, as well as our hunting, military, guide, fishing, and other working dogs including the several hundred recognized dog breeds , are the result of artificial not natural selection, that is, of human-orchestrated breeding.
Wild dogs live mostly in loose association with human communities, variously in neighborhoods and villages, and around garbage dumps. Those circa million wild dogs are domestic not domesticated. Among other troublesome issues, these many wild dogs are responsible for some 70, human rabies deaths per year.
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Depictions of dogs together with humans began to appear 7, or so years ago in mid Neolithic times , suggesting that dogs must have arrived on the world stage at about that time. The Coppingers conclude that the increasing numbers of more-or-less permanent human communities of that era, with their continuing production of edible wastes of garbage and fecal matter, provided a new niche that was soon exploited by various wild animals, including a subset of wolves that could cope with foraging in relative proximity to humans.
Indeed, if this human-created and human-associated niche were to disappear, dogs would soon meet the same fate. Thus, the Coppingers reject the currently more widely held notion of dog origins, namely that Neolithic humans captured wolf or perhaps jackal pups and tamed domesticated them as working or pet dogs.
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While perhaps ruffling the feathers of some critics, the Coppingers present a very careful and well-reasoned argument for their perspective in What Is a Dog? I have no hesitation in recommending both these books for a broad audience including mammalogists, ecologists, conservationists, dog-related professionals, and anyone with more than a passing interest in dogs; in addition, they are must reading for members of relevant organizations e.
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