Inside of a Dog
By: Alexandra Horowitz

Quick-take: Few useful nuggets inside a pile of exposition.

Dan's Review

I love dogs. I got this book hoping to learn more about how my 2 pups think. Instead, what I found was a lot of words without actually saying much. Dr. Horowitz's research is on dog cognition, and she said studied her dog as part of her research. I understand it probably needs to be watered down a bit for the masses. I don't have a background in psychology (human or canine). I think instead of watering it down, it would've been better to skip it all together.

What happened was phrasing such as, "We studied blah, blah to learn about blah blah. I was interested in finding out blah". The book went on with details of finding out blah with very little of what was actually found.

There were some gems in the sea of verbiage.

  • Dogs see 240 degrees versus our 180.
  • Dogs have a profound, hard-to-comprehend powerful sense of smell.
  • A lot of problems can be helped by placing yourself at your dog's perspective. The "umwelt" is what she calls it.

I actually used the umwelt to help with barking. My dog barks, and then I pretend to go check it out. My dog sees that I looked and decided everything was OK. Dog stops barking. I thank my dog for letting me know.

Here are other nuggets that I already knew, but it was nice to have confirmed:

  • Negative reinforcement is basically useless.
  • Dogs and chimps are the only animals that will stare at you in the eyes.
  • Routine is super important
  • Let dogs be dogs. Constant correction just confuses them.
  • Mutts are healthier than purebreds.

I think this book may have been a love letter to Dr. Horowitz's dog of 16 years, Pumpernickel. The dog is referenced very frequently throughout the book. She reminisces a lot about "Pump"'s behavior. I too had a dog I loved dearly for 13 years that passed. 15 years is just too short of time, though Dr. Horowitz makes the case that is just the right amount of time.

Score 2/5: The book would've been better edited down to half its size.

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