A pioneering canine behaviorist draws on cutting-edge research to show that a single, simple trait—the capacity to love—is what makes dogs such perfect companions for humans, and explains how we can better reciprocate their affection.
“Lively and fascinating . . . The reader comes away cheered, better informed, and with a new and deeper appreciation for our amazing canine companions and their enormous capacity for love.” —Cat Warren, New York Times best-selling author of What the Dog Knows
Does your dog love you?
Every dog lover knows the feeling. The nuzzle of a dog’s nose, the warmth of them lying at our feet, even their whining when they want to get up on the bed. It really seems like our dogs love us, too. But for years, scientists have resisted that conclusion, warning against anthropomorphizing our pets. Enter Clive Wynne, a pioneering canine behaviorist whose research is helping to usher in a new era: one in which love, not intelligence or submissiveness, is at the heart of the human-canine relationship. Drawing on cutting‑edge studies from his lab and others around the world, Wynne shows that affection is the very essence of dogs, from their faces and tails to their brains, hormones, even DNA. This scientific revolution is revealing more about dogs’ unique origins, behavior, needs, and hidden depths than we ever imagined possible.
A humane, illuminating book, Dog Is Love is essential reading for anyone who has ever loved a dog—and experienced the wonder of being loved back.
Wynne, an Arizona State University psychology professor and founding director of the school's Canine Science Collaboratory, argues that "dogs' love is the cornerstone of the dog-human relationship" in his entertaining first book. He challenges previous theories positing that dogs enjoyed their "special relationship with humans" thanks to a "unique form of intelligence" allowing them to understand human "communicative intentions." In one experiment, Wynne and his colleagues found evidence that wolves raised by humans can manifest this same trait, conveying to him that the dog-human bond rests on a different foundation. In another experiments, they led a dog into a room to find its owner in one spot and a bowl of food in another; the result suggested that "most dogs prefer to be with their person fed." Wynne also recounts the research of others, including fMRIs of dog brain activity during interactions with owners. The book only falters with Wynne's overly ambitious assertion that emotions as humans know them translate directly into canines' lived experience. But dog lovers will be fascinated and the takeaway message that "we can do better for our dogs," by keeping in mind that dogs feel a meaningful emotional connection to their human owners and thus should be treated respectfully and considerately, is solidly supported.