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

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

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Buy Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know by Alexandra Horowitz at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Pets
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A scientifically-based book about what it really feels like to be a dog. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: February 2010
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 978-1847373472

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I've long been aware that our two dogs have methods of communication which are far more subtle than anything a mere human can muster. They sense exactly how we are feeling – a slight change in the atmosphere and they will be alert. The reactions to a frown or a smile, laughter or tears are all different and they're capable of communicating with us in ways which have no need of words. For a while I thought it was our dogs who were special (well, obviously they are…) but I've noticed other dogs communicating with each other and with humans and the more that I see the more that I wonder why they are referred to as 'dumb animals'.

Dr Alexandra Horowitz teaches psychology and has a PhD in Cognitive Science. She's studied behaviour in humans and animals and Inside of a Dog is the result of her studies of numerous canines. If you think that sounds dry and dull – think again. This is the woman who couldn't believe that spending hours watching dogs play and communicate was really work. The book is a joyous look at dogs large and small and comes as close to telling you what it feels like to be a dog as is possible without being one.

The book is based on solid scientific examination of the facts and there's not an ounce of fluffy reasoning backed up by wishful thinking. We get examples of how her own dog reacts, but they're there to illustrate facts which have been discussed in a way to which all dog owners will relate.

Human beings can probably smell the presence of a spoonful of sugar in a glass of water. A dog can smell the presence of that same quantity of sugar in a volume of water equivalent to two Olympic-sized swimming pools. Now imagine your dog coming and burying his nose in you and smelling you. Can you imagine what a feast it must be for him? Imagine too how he must feel when he goes out on a walk, assaulted by all the smells around him because he can not only establish what those smells are, he can also smell a time line – where a paw print came before another, where one smell has been overlaid by another. Imagine too how you deprive him when you drag him away from this forensic examination.

A dog's sight is different too. They're not colour-blind but some colours come across more strongly than others, particularly a greeny-blue. Dr Horowitz speculates as to what a dog must think of a freshly-scrubbed swimming pool. A dog is more likely to spot something if it moves and some dogs have difficulty in seeing something directly in front of them, because of the formation and placement of the eyes.

I could go on for much longer about what I learned from this book (my husband tells me that I have been doing…), but suffice it to say that at the end of the book you'll have a real sense of how it feels to be a dog. It's interesting in itself, but immensely helpful if you're trying to develop a better relationship with your dog. It's easy reading provided that you're prepared to think about what you've read and relate it to your dog. Frankly I was disappointed when I came to the last page and it's a book that I will read again before too long.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals to you then you'll also appreciate On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas and The Dog Whisperer by Graeme Sims.

Buy Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know by Alexandra Horowitz at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know by Alexandra Horowitz at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know by Alexandra Horowitz at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know by Alexandra Horowitz at Amazon.com.

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