Most dog lovers will tell you that their dog is smart. In fact, it’s something that dog owners have known for some time, that dogs do indeed know what we are saying. Sometimes, they might even know too much! Just try tricking your pup into going to the vet or getting a bath!
Well, a dog named Chaser and her beloved owner “Pop-pop” are challenging what science thinks about dogs and language with a vocabulary of 1000 words!
In the book, Chaser : Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand Words, we follow the progress of a border collie as she learns the names of various toys. But this is more than just learning the names of the toys! To show true understanding of language, she must also learn the words needed to interact with the toys, she must show that she also understands common nouns.
The story of Chaser actually begins with Yasha, the faithful companion of John Pilley, emeritus professor of psychology at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Yasha paved the way for what would later happen with Chaser, as Yasha often would take part in many classroom behavioral experiments. Yasha also had the run of the university, and even had his own ID card! After Yasha’s passing, John experienced what many dog lovers do, that moment when you think you will never have another dog again because losing them is just so painful. Luckily, John’s wife Sally knew better, and gave John a very special Christmas gift.
Noticing right away that Chaser was a bright dog, John set out to determine how best to tap into her intellect. Using play and positive reinforcements rather than relying on treats or punishment, he started training her to recognize items by name, and by group.
The book is a very interesting read. I found myself getting pulled in from the start, both as an animal lover and one who had once thought about going into psychology. Reading about how Chaser was being taught, and what it could mean if John could indeed show that Chaser was learning language, made this a very fun book. Would Chaser prove that animals, especially dogs, do know and learn language and understand what we are saying more than we give them credit for? Would the scientific world believe the research if it did show this?
Well, you will just have to read the book to find out! The story is engaging because you can tell that not only does John love the research, but he really loves dogs as well. John and co-researcher Dr. Alliston Reid later published their findings in the journal Behavioural Processes, and you may have even heard of Chaser thanks to some media coverage too.
To purchase the book and learn more about this amazing dog, be sure to visit Chaser’s website. The book will be released on October 29, 2013 and join our #BlogPawsChat on October 22nd for a chance to win a free book and toy! And be sure to follow Chaser on Twitter, and like the Chaser Facebook Page. Oh, and the book has a list of all the words Chaser knows too! Quiet impressive. 4 paws way up!
I have been compensated for my review of this book. Thanks to BlogPaws network for providing the book for this campaign. As always, my opinions are my own.