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Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know by Alexandra Horowitz (excerpt)

Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know by Alexandra Horowitz (excerpt)



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Published by Simon and Schuster
What’s it like to be able to smell not just every bit of open food in the house but also to smell sadness in humans, or even the passage of time? How does a tiny dog manage to play successfully with a Great Dane? What is it like to hear the bodily vibrations of insects or the hum of a fluorescent light? Why must a person on a bicycle be chased? What’s it like to use your mouth as a hand? In short, what is it like for a dog to experience life from two feet off the ground, amidst the smells of the sidewalk, gazing at our ankles or knees? Inside of a Dog has all the answers.
What’s it like to be able to smell not just every bit of open food in the house but also to smell sadness in humans, or even the passage of time? How does a tiny dog manage to play successfully with a Great Dane? What is it like to hear the bodily vibrations of insects or the hum of a fluorescent light? Why must a person on a bicycle be chased? What’s it like to use your mouth as a hand? In short, what is it like for a dog to experience life from two feet off the ground, amidst the smells of the sidewalk, gazing at our ankles or knees? Inside of a Dog has all the answers.

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Publish date: Sep 28, 2010
Added to Scribd: Mar 15, 2012
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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Activity (23)

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bunwat_1 reviewed this
Embarked on this with interest and anticipation and then just stalled out midway through the third chapter. Don't know if I'll ever get back to it or not. Something about the voice is making me feel talked down to.
bookworm12_1 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
A great look at the psychology behind dog’s actions. I enjoyed the author’s personable writing style and comments about her relationship with her own dog. The book gave me a much bigger appreciation for the importance of smell in my dog’s daily life. It’s a pleasant quick read, but people should keep in mind that it was never intended to be a training book. Its goal is to help you understand your dog better through a look at their ancestors and the root of their actions.
greyback_1 reviewed this
Rated 5/5
Excellent work that gave me a better understanding of my dogs. While the book is not a how to type of book it does give you tips and ideas for how to better communicate with the old pooches!
jclyde_7 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
This is a bestselling biology textbook that reads like a lengthy New Yorker column (as if there are any other kind). It is not a guide to dog training; it is a guide to understanding dog behavior from a biologist's perspective. For example, dogs are very far-sighted, which is why they can spot a frisbee from 20 yards away but can't see a treat on the rug. Also, tracking dogs have an ability to smell that is so precise, they can tell not only where the target has been, but how recently. Pace back and forth in the same place, and these dogs will be able to follow your footsteps exactly. This book is full of these fascinating little factoids. WARNING: It takes a lot longer to walk a dog after reading this book - you won't have the heart to pull him away from all those interesting smells.
stewartry reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Alexandra Horowitz racked up major brownie points right from the beginning with this book. The title comes from one of my favorite quotes ever, from the mouth of Groucho Marx. Also, early on she heads complaints off at the pass by stating that she is using "owner" rather than "pet parent" or some other such silly phrasing because that's the legal term, and she will use "him" and "his" when referring to dogs in general because that's the English default, and, knowing dogs as she does, "it" is not an option. That latter scored high with me: I have Issues with writers who use "it" for animals (particularly those who talk about a mare or stallion and then call the horse "it"), so this made me happy. She is a long-time dog person, so all else being equal we are kindred spirits. And it is a fascinating look at canine life and behavior. I'm not sure it made me see my dog in a whole new light as she promised it would, except for a qualm every time I scratch her back that I might be asserting my dominance – but she loves every second of it, so if I am dominating her she's ok with it. I pretty much knew about the dominance of scent in a dog's life; I did not know about the way a dog perceives color (they're not colorblind, exactly). I knew a little about signs of dominance and submission; I didn't know about what face-licking might really mean. (Pop goes the illusion…ew.) I like the insight that the pitch of a voice, canine or human, in many ways equates to size: low and menacing indicates not only a warning but the idea "and I'm big enough to follow through, too." Something I sort of knew but found confirmation for: wolves howl when they're lonely. So, I can attest, do beagles. Only moreso. One valuable thing this book does is reiterate the common-sense yet somehow easily overlooked point that, just as we don't know why our dogs do some of the things they do, most of what we the people do (much less say) is utterly incomprehensible to dogs. That, very simply, they don't think the way we do. It's all very well for us to say "don't get up on the couch, no, bad!" – but there's a very simple reason it's so hard to enforce. To a dog the couch is not an expensive piece of furniture which needs to be protected from shed fur and stains – it's a nice soft elevated surface to curl up on, with a nice back to it to curl up against, and after all that's what the bipeds use it for. And how can you honestly expect a dog to ignore that pail of food scraps and wrappers under the sink when it's just sitting there at her level smelling (to her) so wonderful? Again, "no, bad!" doesn't really make sense to a dog, however often and however loudly it's repeated. It's food. It's there. It's unprotected. It's hers. Dogs don't naturally do many of the things we ask them to do; many owners, and even many trainers seem to either forget that they're not mute people but canines, and this is where dressed-up dogs doing ridiculous things on command come from. Poor things. This book made me happy I never successfully trained any of our dogs to heel (not that I tried too strenuously). I was simultaneously impressed with and bemused by the tales of the research studies that have been conducted on dogs; on the one hand, some of the results are fascinating – where dogs' mental processes may (or may not) function like toddlers'; on the other, I found myself marveling that well-educated grownups spend their days fooling around with dogs, all in the name of science. Some of them wore buckets on their heads. Overall, this book did an admirable job of both teaching me what an umwelt is and helping me deepen my understanding of a dog's. This was a comprehensible, mostly-plain-language, often very funny and occasionally moving study which both solidified and informed my stance as a fiercely partisan dog person. While it's not intended as a training guide, there's some wonderfully common sense information, particularly toward the end, which will be valuable both with Daisy and when – hopefully years from now – I next need it. Did it change the way I see my beagle? Not much. But I do feel like I have a better handle on what's going on between those long ears. I have an even deeper appreciation for that always-busy nose. And I'm kind of glad she's never been much of a face-licker.
sovranty reviewed this
Rated 3/5
The most important message that can be gained from this behaviorist book is that every dog is an individual and must be treated as such. A decent read for the dog behaviorist novice, even if the ideas were a bit jumbled. However, I disagreed with a lot of Horowitz's observations. The biggest disagreement was with Horowitz's perception of the alpha dog/pack leader handling of dogs. Horowitz is against the idea, and I think it comes down to semantics. I interpret Horowitz to believe the pack leader relationship between human and dog to be mean and aggressive with negative reinforcements. Horowitz even states human families are not alpha female/male driven. In my house, my mom/dad were the alpha, and who doesn't want to grow up to be the mom/dad. I define the alpha/pack leader relationship as the humans making the decisions and delivering guidance while taking cues from the dogs' needs with the dogs following the humans' decisions. But that's my personal opinion...
dk_phoenix_1 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Horowitz's book on dogs isn't like other dog books I've read. Rather than simply telling cutesy stories, or conversely, rather than simply treating the dog like an emotionless, instinct-driven animal, Horowitz presents a balanced view of domestic canines from her scientific perspective and her experiences as a pet owner.The majority of her chapters are given to explaining, in plain language, the scientific processes behind how a dog's mind and senses work, giving evidence, historical detail, and anatomical insight. In parallel with that, she presents examples from her own experience as a dog owner, even if those experiences contradict what 'science' currently claims as true.I liked how she was hesitant to anthropomorphize dogs when presenting the scientific side of things, but acknowledged the near-impossibility of avoiding doing so as a pet owner. She recognized the flaws in some of the studies done on dog behavior, noting that if you asked any dog owner the same questions, they could answer without hesitation.While I don't actually own a dog -- and truth be told, dogs aren't my favorite animals by a long shot -- I thoroughly enjoyed this book and have shared it with several dog owners since reading it. I feel I came away with a better understanding of domestic canines (and wild, actually), and it was a fascinating read to boot!
ganbari_1 reviewed this
Rated 1/5
ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ! Boring! The cover misrepresents the contents. I'm a dog owner but do not wish to be an animal psychologist. I wouldn't even let my dog chew on this book.
sandydog1_1 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
This is not a pop dog-lover's book. It is an animal behavior book (think Lorenz, peer-reviewed studies, psychobiology). In a way, I was hoping for the former. I expected a simple read that would tell me what my dog is up to. Four stars for excellent, insightful writing; 3 stars as a result of my own personal preferences and interests.
dobermantalk reviewed this
This is a very readable and entertaining exploration of a dog's sensory abilities and how they shape a dog's experience of the world. Lots of interesting details (a dog can detect the equivalent of 1 teaspoon of sugar dissolved in the water contained in 2 olympic sized swimming pools) and results of research (do dogs use "theory of the mind" to analyze events around them) as well as entertaining vignettes of her relationship with her own dog make this a fascinating book to read. melbrod

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