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How To Speak Dog: Mastering the Art of Dog-Human Communication

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“A must read for all dog owners.” —The Washington Post “The best key to what dogs are thinking.” —The Seattle Times How to Speak Dog is one of the few books today that show us what dogs are trying to tell us, not just how we can control them. Parlez-vous Doggish? At long last, dogs will know just how smart their owners can be. By unlocking the secrets of the hidden lan “A must read for all dog owners.” —The Washington Post “The best key to what dogs are thinking.” —The Seattle Times How to Speak Dog is one of the few books today that show us what dogs are trying to tell us, not just how we can control them. Parlez-vous Doggish? At long last, dogs will know just how smart their owners can be. By unlocking the secrets of the hidden language of dogs, psychologist Stanley Coren allows us into the doggy dialogue, or “Doggish,” and makes effective communication a reality. Drawing on substantial research in animal behavior, evolutionary biology, and years of personal experience, Coren demonstrates that the average house dog can understand language at about the level of a two-year-old human. While actual conversation of the sort Lassie seemed capable of in Hollywood mythmaking remains forever out of reach, Coren shows us that a great deal of real communication is possible beyond the giving and obeying of commands. How to Speak Dog not only provides the sounds, words, actions, and movements with which we can effectively communicate with our dogs, but also deciphers the signs that our dogs give to us. With easy-to-follow tips on how humans can mimic the language dogs use to talk with one another, original drawings illustrating the subtleties of their body language, and a handy visual glossary and “Doggish” phrasebook, How to Speak Dog gives dog lovers the skills they need to improve their relationships with their pets.


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“A must read for all dog owners.” —The Washington Post “The best key to what dogs are thinking.” —The Seattle Times How to Speak Dog is one of the few books today that show us what dogs are trying to tell us, not just how we can control them. Parlez-vous Doggish? At long last, dogs will know just how smart their owners can be. By unlocking the secrets of the hidden lan “A must read for all dog owners.” —The Washington Post “The best key to what dogs are thinking.” —The Seattle Times How to Speak Dog is one of the few books today that show us what dogs are trying to tell us, not just how we can control them. Parlez-vous Doggish? At long last, dogs will know just how smart their owners can be. By unlocking the secrets of the hidden language of dogs, psychologist Stanley Coren allows us into the doggy dialogue, or “Doggish,” and makes effective communication a reality. Drawing on substantial research in animal behavior, evolutionary biology, and years of personal experience, Coren demonstrates that the average house dog can understand language at about the level of a two-year-old human. While actual conversation of the sort Lassie seemed capable of in Hollywood mythmaking remains forever out of reach, Coren shows us that a great deal of real communication is possible beyond the giving and obeying of commands. How to Speak Dog not only provides the sounds, words, actions, and movements with which we can effectively communicate with our dogs, but also deciphers the signs that our dogs give to us. With easy-to-follow tips on how humans can mimic the language dogs use to talk with one another, original drawings illustrating the subtleties of their body language, and a handy visual glossary and “Doggish” phrasebook, How to Speak Dog gives dog lovers the skills they need to improve their relationships with their pets.

30 review for How To Speak Dog: Mastering the Art of Dog-Human Communication

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rydh

    "How To Speak Dog" by Stanley Coren Postscript ONE LAST WORD "There is one sound that dogs make which I have not included in my discussion of Doggish vocalizations. I didn't include it because it is an automatic sound, which probably was not intended by either evolution or the gods to be communication at all, but it has come to mean something to me. It is the sound of dogs breathing. At night, when I lie down to sleep, my old dog Wiz lies on the bed beside me, while Odin lies on a cedar chip pillo "How To Speak Dog" by Stanley Coren Postscript ONE LAST WORD "There is one sound that dogs make which I have not included in my discussion of Doggish vocalizations. I didn't include it because it is an automatic sound, which probably was not intended by either evolution or the gods to be communication at all, but it has come to mean something to me. It is the sound of dogs breathing. At night, when I lie down to sleep, my old dog Wiz lies on the bed beside me, while Odin lies on a cedar chip pillow on the floor close by my head. Just across the room, my puppy, Dancer, who is not quite fully house-trained, sleeps in his wire kennel. In the quiet and the darkness, sounds are amplified. I can hear the low, slow breathing of the big black dog, the short breaths of the orange puppy, and the occasional sniffle and snore of the old white dog. As I listen to those soft sounds, I think of some earlier man, lying in a cave or rude shelter, resting on a bed of hides or straw. It was a hostile, dangerous world. Weapons were primitive, resources often sparse, and there were menacing things that moved in the night. That long-gone ancestor also had dogs who lay beside him as he tried to sleep. His dogs breathed these same sounds and these sounds had meaning. They were not merely part of the language of nature - they were the sounds of safety and comfort, a recitation of the dog's eternal contract with humans. "I am here with you," the dog's breath said. "We will face this life together. There is no beast or intruder that can steal up on you undetected because I am here, and I will be your eyes and ears. No harm will come to you because I am at your side to warn you, and to defend you if need be. "We will hunt together tomorrow. We will herd together tomorrow. We will share the sunshine tomorrow. We will explore this world together. We will laugh together. We will play together, even though neither of us is any longer a child. "If luck turns bad, then when you grieve, I will comfort you. You will never need to be alone again. I promise this. As your dog, I will sing this promise to you, and whisper it to you at night, every night, with my breath." I can hear these words in my dogs' soft sounds of breathing, and, just like my ancient ancestor, I understand these words and I am comforted. In my heart I know that if the language of dogs were so limited that this was the only message they could send, it would still be enough." The book contains much interesting and useful information for people who interact with dogs and this information is presented in a relaxed, free-flowing, easy-to-read style. But what I most value is the clear light of Stanley Coren's gentle and respectful love for dogs which illuminates every sentence he writes but which is most clearly exemplified in the closing paragraphs which I have quoted above.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lacie

    This book is thus far the most enlightening, beautifully written piece on dogs I've come across, and that is not just in comparison to all of the frivolous responses to my Google queries. (Well, maybe it is.) As a first time dog owner, I had more questions than a search engine could reasonably answer. What is this thing about being an alpha dog?! Is my dog painfully bored during my long workday? What is it about his greeting that seems to put all the other dogs in a tizzy? Why is he constantly s This book is thus far the most enlightening, beautifully written piece on dogs I've come across, and that is not just in comparison to all of the frivolous responses to my Google queries. (Well, maybe it is.) As a first time dog owner, I had more questions than a search engine could reasonably answer. What is this thing about being an alpha dog?! Is my dog painfully bored during my long workday? What is it about his greeting that seems to put all the other dogs in a tizzy? Why is he constantly scratching himself, like a kid biding time, whenever I am trying to teach him something? To my relief and amazement, Stanley Coren wittily answers all of these and more with thorough, thoughtfully curated topics from ethological studies, history, animal psychology, and his own anecdotes. I learned, for example, that yawning could be a nonchalant sign of friendliness and peace toward an aggressive dog. I learned that pointing at something with your body and head is more easily understood than pointing with your finger (the chapter about which had me laughing to myself). But the book does more than explain how to communicate with dogs. Coren breaks down the various components by which dogs communicate -- their sounds, the rotation of their ears, posture, facial expressions, tail expressions, etc., and for that, I am greatly indebted, because my eyes were opened to so much of what my dog was saying that I couldn't understand before. My dog wasn't just excited to see other dogs; his eye contact and broad-chested posturing was letting every dog know he considered himself the boss, even if he was half their height. His endless bouts of itches during our training sessions was a sign of confusion and frustration, so I needed to slow our lessons down. And happily, his excited shoulder-rubbing all over the couch and floor after consuming a homecooked meal is not, in fact, the result of an allergic reaction so much as an expression of ecstatic joy. Most importantly, understanding why the expressions mean what they do (in relation to their wild nature, history of domestication, interactions with their litter and their birthmom) permits me to discard the dominance theory in favor of a relationship built more on familial friendship and understanding, which is what I'd prefer to have with my precious one. Needless to say, I'm so grateful to have found this book. Yes, much more of it deals with theory than with practical advice (though there is also advice to be found, too). There are a lot of resources out there about how to train your dog, but when those techniques don't work, this book can help 'debug' the process, so to speak. I can't recommend it enough.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Guy

    This is a fascinating read and valuable for everyone who comes in contacts with dogs, not just for dog owners. Coren fills the book with a wide range of research about communications, in general, and how that applies to dogs, in particular. He also includes cats, and apes, including some of the seminal studies in non-human animal linguistic research. The sketches included, with a great quick reference summary at the end of the book, are excellent. His book, and the sketches, will have you notici This is a fascinating read and valuable for everyone who comes in contacts with dogs, not just for dog owners. Coren fills the book with a wide range of research about communications, in general, and how that applies to dogs, in particular. He also includes cats, and apes, including some of the seminal studies in non-human animal linguistic research. The sketches included, with a great quick reference summary at the end of the book, are excellent. His book, and the sketches, will have you noticing what those dogs in the park are saying to each other. And to unsuspecting humans, if they have 'doggish', to avoid getting bit and to reduce bad encounters between dogs. Now when I walk in the park and see the dogs moving, I can see what they are saying! For example, I saw a particular dog's language and saw that the owner was not paying attention to its fearful aggressiveness to another dog and I was able to predict it would attack it. His cat/dog tail fairy tale is fun. It describes how miscommunication happens between dogs and cats, and between dog lovers and cats. His elaboration makes clear and solid the truth of the tale. Research suggests that dogs learn upwards of 200 words, with a vocabulary and ability to understand at roughly equivalent to a two year old. Very simple sentences can be understood. In chapter 19, "Is it Language?", Coren runs through the basic scientific attributes that have been deemed the minimum needed for communication to be a language. And, with a smile on my face, following this criterion 'doggish' is a language. The smile arises, in part, because he had earlier in the book disagreed with the famous linguist, Noam Chomsky, who averred that only humans have or can have language (p.12). Claiming "that most psychologists and linguists today would probably agree on around four or five basic requirements for something to be defined as a language"(p.220), Coren then looks at semanticity, or meaningfulness, displacement, or the ability to refer to objects or events displaced in time or place, grammar and finally productivity. In each case he argues that doggish meets these criterion. I cite from his discussion on 'productivity':The last basic requirement for language is known as productivity. A true language allow the expression and comprehension of an infinite number of novel expressions, all of which created on the spot. More clearly, this notion is based on the assumption that language is a creative system of communication, as opposed to a repetitive system that works on the basis of recycling a limited set of sentences or phrases. Some researchers might suggest that this requirement seems to rule out canine language. Unfortunately, interpreted strictly, it would also rule out any simple language that has a small vocabulary and limited grammatical rules which keep the sentences short. A child of two or three years of age, with a vocabulary of only 100 words and a sentence length limited to two words, will have a fixed number of possible sentences and will 'recycle' these sentences as needed to communicated with those around him. Yet we give this child credit for having language, even though it fails the test of productivity. My predisposition is to accept doggish as a simple language, using the same rules and criteria that we use to credit young children with language. When testing language development in people, in addition to sounds, psychologist do recognize gestures as language components. Consider one such test, the MacArthur Communicative Development Inventory, which has forms for measuring language development for children as young as two years of age. It has entire section on 'Communicative Gestures', which it counts as language. These include pointing to interesting objects or events, waving 'bye-bye' when a person leaves, extending the arms upward to signal a wish to picked up, and even smacking the lips 'yum-yum' gesture to show that something tasted good. Certainly, the communicative gestures of dogs are equal to in complexity to these. In drawing the similarity between canine communication abilities and infant speech we must not go overboard. There are unavoidable parallels, however. In both and dogs and human infants, receptive vocabulary is larger and more reliable than productive vocabulary. The linguistic items that are understood also more likely to contain information about actions that the speaker would like to perform. We say, 'Give me your hand,' to a child and grant it some linguistic ability when it does so. Obviously, then, the dog's response to 'Give me a paw' also represents equivalent language ability. The emitted language for both young infants and dogs is almost exclusively social in nature, attempting to elicit responses from other individuals. In dogs, the emitted language actually a bit more complex than that of infants, since it emphasizes dominance and status relationships as well as the emotional states and desires of the communicator. Although a two year old may well try to manipulate others with displays such as temper tantrums, human children will not commonly attempt to communicate or express real social dominance until they are a few years older (p. 224-225). I learned much more than what a flapping tail means in this book, including why and how dogs are different than wolves, some linguistics, including that with apes, the effects on children and their language on having being raised by wolves, and of course some of the human/dog history. A wonderful and delightful read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Apryl Anderson

    This was so fascinating! We see so many of these 'dog-whisperer' tricks on YouTube, but Coren gives the scientific backstory of evolutionary biology that makes up the whole nature of the beast. I now understand how I could've looked after Tina & Turner better, and am applying a whole new phrasebook in raising up Penny & Bertie. It's really challenging for me, as they're gorgeously open to exploring the world, I want to stare at them unblinkingly, watching for every clue, and attempting to deciph This was so fascinating! We see so many of these 'dog-whisperer' tricks on YouTube, but Coren gives the scientific backstory of evolutionary biology that makes up the whole nature of the beast. I now understand how I could've looked after Tina & Turner better, and am applying a whole new phrasebook in raising up Penny & Bertie. It's really challenging for me, as they're gorgeously open to exploring the world, I want to stare at them unblinkingly, watching for every clue, and attempting to decipher every mannerism. Poor pups, they'll feel as if they're on stage if I'm not careful.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jeff "Twitch" Burns, CDEP, CMAS

    Excellent book and a must read for all canine behaviorists, trainers, and anyone wanted to have a better relationship with your dog. This is one of those change your life kind of books.

  6. 5 out of 5

    David

    Fun stories about clever and/or cute dogs and immediately useful practical advice. Great for dog owners. Fun for everyone.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Abby

    A nice place to start in a study of canine communication and behavior, but there have been better books written about it (to name a few: The Other End of the Leash (McConnell), Inside of a Dog (Horowitz), and Dog Sense (Bradshaw)). My full review here: http://thedoggerel.wordpress.com/2011... A nice place to start in a study of canine communication and behavior, but there have been better books written about it (to name a few: The Other End of the Leash (McConnell), Inside of a Dog (Horowitz), and Dog Sense (Bradshaw)). My full review here: http://thedoggerel.wordpress.com/2011...

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ted Waterfall

    As a dog lover I found this book highly entertaining, informative, rewarding, enlightening, and renewing. As a retired history teacher and wanna-be archaeologist/anthropologist, I have often concluded that there developed in our evolutionary past three distinct branches of human beings. These being homo sapien sapien, homo sapien neanderthal, and homo sapien canine :). So I found it especially interesting that early in the book the author, Stanley Coren, mentions a theory that our domestication As a dog lover I found this book highly entertaining, informative, rewarding, enlightening, and renewing. As a retired history teacher and wanna-be archaeologist/anthropologist, I have often concluded that there developed in our evolutionary past three distinct branches of human beings. These being homo sapien sapien, homo sapien neanderthal, and homo sapien canine :). So I found it especially interesting that early in the book the author, Stanley Coren, mentions a theory that our domestication of dogs might have been far earlier than commonly accepted. Perhaps as far back as 100,000 years ago. And because of this early date, we relied more and more on their smelling and tracking skills for the hunt than our own, which allowed our early human ancestors to evolve different facial features which resulted in the ability to form complex speech patterns. Our other human ancestors, Neanderthal, never developed a relationship with dogs, and they disappeared! (pp. 17-19). Could it be we owe our very survival to our domestication of dogs?

  9. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    An addition to the growing body of literature on reading canine body language and positive canine approach training. There are one or two disagreements I have with Cohen -- his reference to dominance I find troubling. However, overall, the book is positive. But, if you are interested in furthering your canine body language knowledge or training your dog, I suggest you pick up one of the excellent books by a certified CAPD trainer -- Patricia McConnell, Nicole Wilde, Pat Miller -- (Cesar Milan is n An addition to the growing body of literature on reading canine body language and positive canine approach training. There are one or two disagreements I have with Cohen -- his reference to dominance I find troubling. However, overall, the book is positive. But, if you are interested in furthering your canine body language knowledge or training your dog, I suggest you pick up one of the excellent books by a certified CAPD trainer -- Patricia McConnell, Nicole Wilde, Pat Miller -- (Cesar Milan is not one of these certified trainers). Or go right to the horse's mouth and read Turid Rugaas, (On Talking Terms with Dogs) the canine behaviorist who first wrote about canine body language.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Full disclosure, I didn't read this book in it's entirety. We recently adopted a dog and he's been a bit of a puzzle. Grabbed this book thinking it would help at certain point, and it did. However, there were certain chapters that I simply did not need to read, so... I read about the ways dogs talk to each other (Face Talk, Ear Talk, etc) which were excellent. Also the chapter regarding Cats and Dogs and the different ways they communicate was very helpful. Alas, I think our cat will never forgive Full disclosure, I didn't read this book in it's entirety. We recently adopted a dog and he's been a bit of a puzzle. Grabbed this book thinking it would help at certain point, and it did. However, there were certain chapters that I simply did not need to read, so... I read about the ways dogs talk to each other (Face Talk, Ear Talk, etc) which were excellent. Also the chapter regarding Cats and Dogs and the different ways they communicate was very helpful. Alas, I think our cat will never forgive us for bringing him home. In any case, if you want to go deeper into understanding the subtle ways dogs communicate with both humans and other dogs, this is a great book to help you out.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Scot Parker

    Excellent guide to dog-human interaction. There are a couple of minor errors here and there concerning the interpretation of statistics, but these do not significantly detract from the work as a whole. This book will give you a lot of insight into just what your dog is trying to communicate to you and help you to speak to your (and anyone else's) dog in their language. This has significantly changed how I interact with my own dogs, and led to a much more positive relationship with them with way Excellent guide to dog-human interaction. There are a couple of minor errors here and there concerning the interpretation of statistics, but these do not significantly detract from the work as a whole. This book will give you a lot of insight into just what your dog is trying to communicate to you and help you to speak to your (and anyone else's) dog in their language. This has significantly changed how I interact with my own dogs, and led to a much more positive relationship with them with way less frustration.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    The most comprehensive and accurate overview of dog/dog and dog/human (bonus: dog/cat) communication I've ever read. This belongs in the same high category as Monks of New Skete' How to be Your Dog's Best Friend and Cesar Millan's Dog Whisperer, for usefulness and fascination. Excellent illustrations, also, to help identify body language. Having had nearly a dozen canine companions thus far in life, and most of the time, multiples at a time, I found this very enlightening and true. Must read if The most comprehensive and accurate overview of dog/dog and dog/human (bonus: dog/cat) communication I've ever read. This belongs in the same high category as Monks of New Skete' How to be Your Dog's Best Friend and Cesar Millan's Dog Whisperer, for usefulness and fascination. Excellent illustrations, also, to help identify body language. Having had nearly a dozen canine companions thus far in life, and most of the time, multiples at a time, I found this very enlightening and true. Must read if you love dogs.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jude

    The author has spent a lot of time watching dogs, whew! It's quite fascinating to read through the various ways of communication animal to animal and how that translates and mis-translates in human-canine interactions. I can see where this could be very useful to someone starting out with a dog. For us with a 15 year old dog, it seems to be more an issue of looking back on our mistakes! There are some delightful anecdotes included. That kept me interested where, for example, long descriptions of The author has spent a lot of time watching dogs, whew! It's quite fascinating to read through the various ways of communication animal to animal and how that translates and mis-translates in human-canine interactions. I can see where this could be very useful to someone starting out with a dog. For us with a 15 year old dog, it seems to be more an issue of looking back on our mistakes! There are some delightful anecdotes included. That kept me interested where, for example, long descriptions of tail positions and their probable meanings did not. Well-researched and well-written.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    This is practice prior to 2000. It is inaccurate in some stated comments from my reading of others works and lived experience of dogs. Perhaps his later edition might be more accurate. I look forward to reading it. If you chose to read Stanley Coren, read others too for more accurate research results, understandings and practice with dogs.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Martin Smith

    Wow - what an amazing book. A must read for anyone who likes dogs. I found myself learning as much about human behaviour as that of dogs. Written at just the right level as well, often funny and often very touching. And the last chapter really got me emotionally. Life changing book - one of my favourites that I’ve read over last few years.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Renmarie56

    I liked this book because it's a clear guide as to how dogs communicate and how to read their body language. As someone who did not grow up with dogs, I found it useful to have some basics explained. I liked this book because it's a clear guide as to how dogs communicate and how to read their body language. As someone who did not grow up with dogs, I found it useful to have some basics explained.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anna Battle

    This book is more, than a guide on how to speak a dog. It is an encouraging introduction to the evolution of communication in animals. Author's language and sense of humor were absolutely enjoyable for me. And yes, Doggish phrase book is included. This book is more, than a guide on how to speak a dog. It is an encouraging introduction to the evolution of communication in animals. Author's language and sense of humor were absolutely enjoyable for me. And yes, Doggish phrase book is included.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Fred Herlihy

    This book is written leagues better than almost all other literature about dogs. Clear insight into interactions of canines and their surroundings. The lists of barks and tail wags were a bit superfluous. But definitely came out the other side thinking more about how to perceive canine emotions

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    In an attempt to be a better dog owner, and listen to books that are good for me, I started this book. I learned a lot and am already benefiting from it. It helps that he looks at language and I have a linguistic back ground. His anecdotes and evolutionary biology are fascinating.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Michael Adamchuk

    Learning how to communicate with our best friend and how they communicate with and to us. They use body language, eyes, tail, bark and their entire body. Recommended for any and all dog owners or owners-to-be.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jason Palmer

    Insightful dog book. As a lifelong dog owner, most communications queues here I was already attuned to. But this did add some additional insight. There is always more to learn about dogs. They are the most amazing animals.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    So when my dog used me as a mattress today, I am just going to assume that she likes me. As much time as she spends on my actual person, she is either really, really cold or she likes me a tiny bit.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Darcy

    Great book on human communication, human/animal communication, and animal-animal communication.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Locke

    One of the best Christmas presents ever!! Spent hours reading with our dogs😊!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kitty Hilton

    Instructive and entertaining Very in-depth and informative discussion of dog and human interaction. Includes a section on cat Communication. A most wonderful read

  26. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    This book is really a 4.5, but since I love dogs and Dr. Coren shares so much great knowledge about them, I have to round up. It's for the dogs, after all. ;~) This book is really a 4.5, but since I love dogs and Dr. Coren shares so much great knowledge about them, I have to round up. It's for the dogs, after all. ;~)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jos Stappers

    Finally a scientific work about dog communication!

  28. 4 out of 5

    James Marcus

    Very informative and extremely well written. Good work from the author.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alexis

    A good primer on decoding dog language and on maximizing dog/human interaction. It's a bit dated, but it's still a decent read. A good primer on decoding dog language and on maximizing dog/human interaction. It's a bit dated, but it's still a decent read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    one of the best dog books I've ever read - and I read a lot of dog books! one of the best dog books I've ever read - and I read a lot of dog books!

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