Articles > General Biology > Animal Behavior > For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend

For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend

For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend 



  • Patricia B. McConnell


  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (August 29, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 0345477146
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.46 pounds


Book Description

Yes, humans and canines are different species, but current research provides fascinating, irrefutable evidence that what we share with our dogs is greater than how we vary. As behaviorist and zoologist Dr. Patricia McConnell tells us in this remarkable new book about emotions in dogs and in people, more and more scientists accept the premise that dogs have rich emotional lives, exhibiting a wide range of feelings including fear, anger, surprise, sadness, and love.

In For the Love of a Dog, McConnell suggests that one of the reasons we love dogs so much is that they express emotions in ways similar to humans. After all, who can communicate joy better than a puppy? But not all emotional expressions are obvious, and McConnell teaches both beginning dog owners and experienced dog lovers how to read the more subtle expressions hidden behind fuzzy faces and floppy ears.

For those of us who deeply cherish our dogs but are sometimes baffled by their behavior, For the Love of a Dog will come as a revelation–a treasure trove of useful facts, informed speculation, and intriguing accounts of man’s best friend at his worst and at his very best. Readers will discover how fear, anger, and happiness underlie the lives of both people and dogs and, most important, how understanding emotion in both species can improve the relationship between them. Thus McConnell introduces us to the possibility of a richer, more rewarding relationship with our dogs.

While we may never be absolutely certain what our dogs are feeling, with the help of this riveting book we can understand more than we ever thought possible. Those who consider their dogs part of the family will find For the Love of a Dog engaging, enlightening, and utterly engrossing. 

About the Author(s)

Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D., is an adjunct assistant professor of zoology at the University of Wisconsin—Madison and a certified Applied Animal Behaviorist. Her company, Dog’s Best Friend, Ltd., specializes in family dog training and treating aggression in dogs, and she is an immensely popular speaker around the country. She is the co-host of Calling All Pets, an animal behavior advice show syndicated to a hundred public radio stations, and was the animal behaviorist on Animal Planet’s Petline. She works daily with three dogs (two border collies and a Great Pyrenees) on her sheep farm outside of Madison. Visit Patricia McConnell’s website at


Your Relationship With Dogs Will Improve Dramatically!, September 25, 2006

I’m blown away by this book. I really liked McConnell’s first book, "The Other End of the Leash," but this book blows even that away.

And here’s why:

This book is an uncommon combination of 3 things that usually don’t go together.

1) Entertaining and moving (yet educational) stories of dogs and their humans (many from McConnell’s long career as an animal behaviorist),

2) Immediately useful knowlege about dog behavior and the "clues" dogs give about what is going on with them, and

3) Relentless scientific backup for what she says, while NOT being hard to read or "science-y."

For instance, do you know what it means when a dogs mouth is closed?

Do you know what it means if a dog is pointing her muzzle away from you, but looking in your direction?

Do you know what it means if a dog is pulling the corners of his mouth forward?

You should, because these are all critical clues about what the dog is going to do next — it may even prevent you from being bitten by the next dog you reach out to pet!

Do you know the government-tested 30-second puppy-exercise regime that helps them grow into dogs that are gentle, flexible, and tolerant?

You should, it might make a huge difference in the next dog you get!

Along the way McConnell provides TONS of useful and entertaining knowledge about dog and human brains, how we learn, developmental phases (and how to impact them!), the nature of happiness (and how to be more happy!) and a whole lot more.

. . .even how to tell if a dog might be laughing at your hairstyle.

And it’s so well written it’s hard to put down.

I’m sorry if this sounds like an ad for the book . . . I’m not selling the book, just reviewing it, and I really liked it.

I think that if you like dogs and spend time with them, your relationships with them will be noticibly enriched by your reading this book.