I recently finished reading a delightful book that I stumbled upon in the Dubuque library. It was written by Alexandra Horowitz and is titled Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know. The author is a cognitive scientist, and she writes with clear, understandable, thoughtful science, interspersing wonderful little anecdotes throughout the book. I loved how she described the various experiments discussed in the book, as well as how she explained her theories about what is going on in dogs’ heads and why she came to that conclusion. While I disagree on a fair bit of what she mentioned training wise, this book is highly valuable for the understanding inside it, despite our different views on how to apply that understanding toward dog training. The 301 pages of content are jam packed with information, with an additional 29 pages of notes and cited sources (so you can look up all the experiments she mentions and read the research yourself if you want!)

One of the things I enjoyed was the layout of the book. Alexandra Horowitz takes the reader through what science knows about dogs by first introducing the concept of umwelt (using science to safely anthropomorphism, that is, to put yourself in the dog’s shoes and see life as your dog might see it) and then explains what science knows about the various senses of dogs so that in later chapters she can put that all together to display the umwelt of the dog as she sees it. She uses lots of historical and current research to back up her ideas and to lead to new questions, and she explores the limits of what science can and can not tell us about how our dogs see the world. Finally, she uses the umwelt she has laid out for the reader to theorize on how best we can pamper our pooches.

I loved how she handled anthropomorphization- not just dismissing it as altogether harmful. But also acknowledging the good qualities about it and the fact that people are going to anthropomorphize. She then takes the reader through where the pitfalls might be so we can avoid them, and using umwelt to guide your conclusions seems like a cool way to go from my point of view. She doesn’t shy away from delving into the theoretical, either.

All in all, I love this book. Amazon has it listed right now for only $17.82, so it’s a good deal if you plan to get a copy for yourself. I think it’s a great book for any dog owner interested in learning more about their dog and getting closer to their dog to read, so I am seriously considering adding it to my library. If the Dubuque library didn’t already have a copy, it would be a no-brainer. Check it out!

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