Inside of a dog: what dogs
see smell and know
By Alexandra Horowitz
AUTHOR Alexandra Horowitz teaches psychology at Barnard College, Columbia University. Before embarking on a scientific career she worked as a lexicographer at Merrian-Webster and was a staff member of The New Yorker. She and her husband live in New York City with Finnegan, a dog of “indeterminate parentage and determinate character”.
When you read this book prepare to be entertained and informed. The author, although well qualified to engage in a purely scientific study, has not set out to make her book a technical report, but rather to inform dog owners about how their dog thinks, what motivates it to do the things it does, what it hopes to achieve, why it develops attitudes towards its owner, family and friends (or enemies).
The dog accepted humans as companions and members of their family from ancient times. But the human race is only now beginning to accept the dog as an equal being in their households. Clothes and accessories for dogs now have sale figures of billions of dollars yearly and most dog-owning families think of their dog as a ‘fur person’. So how correct is it now that we do try to understand our companions and how they would like us to treat them? Information like this has been a long time coming!
And reading through, one realises just how wrong we sometimes get things. Because scent is so important to a dog and its sense of smell is such a superpower, whenever we bathe it in scented soap or shampoo we are taking away its own identity in the canine world. Not only that, it may not actually like the smell we impose on it (suddenly, a real reason for the frantic roll out in the dirt after a bath). And the smells we use in our homes may make our dog sneeze or give him a headache or make him feel sick the perfumes we wear and the air fresheners we use are likely to overwhelm a dog’s super sense of smell.
So what do you think it would be like to be a dog? Your answer would probably be wrong but this book will set you straight. Does your dog really like you? You could get an answer if you read the signs correctly. The problem is that we always judge our dogs’ behaviour within human parameters. This book will show you how to put yourself in the dog’s place and think like he would think, but that is not something you can learn at one reading. I recommend you take it slowly and re-read the book often to check that you are not straying off-course. With a huge amount of practise we may even get it right in the end. You can purchase this book at http://www.amazon.com. - EP