Review – The Domestic Dog
The Domestic Dog: Its Evolution, Behaviour and Interactions with People, edited by James Serpell, is a collection of articles written by some of the preeminent names in academic research into canine behavior. It is a 268-page, medium-size-format, paperback book that provides a well-rounded approach for the reader to take in understanding canine behavior.
Taking a Closer Look
Twenty-one contributors provided the content for The Domestic Dog. Their articles range over such topics as genetics and its relevance to canine behavior, the development of behavior, feeding behavior, communication behavior, canine aggression, behavioral therapy, the effects of the human personality on the relationship and the human/canine connection. As the reader progresses through each article, they will become aware of an underlying theme: canine behavior is not only based upon a rich evolutionary history but also an artificially developed evolution predicated by the needs of man. The results of both evolutionary tracks provide for an astonishing read. As research uncovers each thread of the bond between human and canine, the awesome power of influence each species has had on the other becomes more apparent.
As the stresses of life in today’s world put more pressure on our canine partners to adapt, we will need more knowledge to help them with the adaptation. The researchers contemporary to the publication of The Domestic Dog have pointed the way. Some of their conclusions have come into question lately. This is the nature of research. But, irrespective of the changing times and our growing understanding of the canine/human bond, much more is left to be accomplished by today’s researchers. If we are to move forward into a crowded future with dwindling resources and maintain our relationship with all animals, not just canines, we will need a program of ongoing research and more texts like The Domestic Dog.
Dr. Serpell is a professor of Humane Ethics and Animal Welfare at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and a professor of Animal Welfare at the University of Pennsylvania. He has conducted extensive research and prolifically written on canine behavior and the relationship between canines and humans. Dr. Serpell’s professional standing and work within the academic community concerning humane ethics and animal welfare have allowed him to pull together the people and information necessary to make this excellent resource text. When a dog owner is ready, this is the book that will help them delve deeper into the issues of natural and learned canine behavior and understand their relevance to life with a dog.