The Social Lives of Dogs
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The Social Lives of Dogs

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  303 ratings  ·  28 reviews
In this sequel to her illuminating bestseller The Hidden Life of Dogs, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas profiles the canines in her own household to show how dogs have comfortably adapted to life with their human owners -- and with each other. A classically trained anthropologist, she answers questions we all have about our pets' behavior. Do dogs have different barks that mean d...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 1st 2001 by Gallery Books (first published June 1st 2000)
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Christina
Elizabeth Marshall Thomas shares stories about 5 dogs in particular (Sundog, Misty, Pearl, Ruby and Sheilah) along with stories about the rest of the multi-species household consisting of dogs (as much as 7 dogs at a time), cats and parrots in her attempt to understand animal thinking and reasoning and the social rules and norms that exist between them.
The household is not the normal animal family in many ways. For instance, the amount of animals and that they have dogs and cats and birds existi...more
Desiree Depinet
I really enjoyed this book. I like the way the author, who is an anthroplogist, talks about watching her pets interact with one another and the humans in the household without talking like a scientist and above the reader's head. Her stories are amusing and most dog lovers will be able to relate to many of these stories. When she talks about Sundog, I am reminded of my best friend who I lost almost 2 years ago. He also looked a lot like Sundog. I also understood her grief with the decision she m...more
John
Roughly speaking, all social behavior falls somewhere between two poles: rigid conformity and utter anarchy. Depending on our own temperament and social grooming, most of us tend to be attracted to one of the two and repulsed by the other. We are Apollonian or Dionysian, seekers of light and order or darkness and misrule. Dog owners are especially easy to fit into this spectrum. On the one side we have the disciplinarians for whom the very definition of a "good" dog is obedience; on the other si...more
Carol Marini


I loved this book. Elizabeth Marshall Thomas is all heart and writes about dogs in their packs as a much loved member. She clearly has a deep connection with all her animals but is amazingly capable of letting them be exactly who they are and not projecting her "human" traits on them. Her style is funny, touching, inspiring and heartfelt. I would highly recommend this book to all animal lovers, especially those of us who belong to dog packs.
Autumn Doughton
I really wanted to rate this 3.5 stars, but since that's not an option, I had to go with 4 stars.
This book was departure from the norm for me. I usually go for fantastical novels that carry me away, but this was a fun examination of the way dogs think/feel/relate. It was written straightforwardly, but created a fun and winding story.
I love dogs and currently own a boxer that is a nuisance and a pain but also a great love. I laughed while reading this book, understanding, like the author, the st...more
Mary
Oct 11, 2008 Mary rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who loves animals
Shelves: anthropolgy
An utterly delightful book. If you love animals, read Elizabeth Marshall Thomas. She is passionate, insightful, and funny, in observing details about the dogs in her life. Some of the anecdotes are hilarious, some are sad, all are interesting. The book also talks about how her dogs, unbeknownst to her and her husband, formed little groups/cliques with the humans and the cats in her household. I look forward to her other book about dogs. Have already read her book about cats, which was very good....more
Yulia
Sure, this wasn't that scientific, but I didn't have any expectations about that before I started reading, so I enjoyed it. I think I learned a lot about dogs from this!
Dayla
Mar 03, 2013 Dayla rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: dogs
It is too bad that James Herriot didn't mary Ms. Thomas. This is one of the greatest romps through the life of a dog as seen through the eyes of a very compassionate dog lover. (This is Shakespeare compared to "Marley" bio.) Bravo for Ms. Thomas' unabashed support for dogs working out their own problems through a special series of interactions with each other that sound almost too aggressive for humans to handle. However, if you have trust in them, the dogs always work out the hierarchy on their...more
Lydia
A quick read...thoroughly enjoyed (even if I see things a bit different from the author). The hard part was the memories it brought back of my own dog...too many tears yesterday (3 week mark). But many of those memories are so precious to me.

I've been avoiding writing down them because I cry when I do, but now want to more then ever.

There is just something special about dogs and the way they fit into our packs.
Nick Duretta
Thomas lives with a large menagerie of dogs, cats and parrots (oh, and she manages to get her husband in there too) and still has time to write eloquently and incisively. Quite an accomplishment! For anyone who has spent a lifetime trying to figure out the mysteries of their pets' behavior, this book is immensely illuminating. You'll never look at your dog (or cat) the same again (which is a good thing!).
Dawn Mateo
I was under the expectation, and hoping, that this took a more anthropological view point into the social lives of dogs. (As the title might suggest). Instead it says about the author's pets (not just dogs) and her thoughts on the subject and she raised question that I was asking (and my purpose for reading the book). While it wasn't what I set out to read, I still found it somewhat entertaining.
Katiem
I don't have much to add to what everyone else has said. This is a great, simple read for those of us who value our pets as family. Much like the author, I too have a large pack of animals (8 dogs, 5 cats and a rabbit) living in my home. I enjoyed reading her experiences and her interpretations of dogs behaviour, even if I don't completely agree with her views.

You can't help but love Sundog.
Jan
Mar 02, 2009 Jan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Cheryl
Recommended to Jan by: Just found it at the library.
This is the sequil of The Hidden Lives of Dogs, and it's even better than the first. For a non fiction book, it's incredibly mesmerizing. I could hardly put it down, as she described one story after another about her various pets ( not all dogs). I fell totally in love with Sundog, and you will, too. I may want to read this book again, sometime.
Cori
I learned so much from this book! The author does an amazing job of demonstrating canine group structure and communication - among themselves and with humans, cats and birds.

I presented the biscuit test to both my dogs - a 13 year old Shepherd mix and a 1 year old Basenji/Terrier... I was surprised by the result.
Wendy
I finally gave up on this one. I was expecting a book that was from more of a scientific and/or training point of view and this is basically the author talking about her dog and stories about their life together. Just wasn't clicking with me, so I'm just going to take it back to the library.
Leslie
Jul 25, 2011 Leslie added it
Interesting, but I strongly disagree with many of her ideas. Being against euthanasia of a very sick dog is not a humane behavior. And her position that dogs have emotional lives that include loving people and other pets they haven't seen in a decade is a bit of a stretch.
Bookchick
Fascinating interplay between Thomas' dogs and between the dogs and other household species. I think some of her general conclusions about dog behavior, based only upon the specific behaviors of her dogs, were a stretch. Still, entertaining and thought-provoking.
Lize
Jun 10, 2011 Lize rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2003, dogs
Fascinating book about an anthropologist and her family of dogs, cats and parrots. Very detailed study of animal behavior and how they relate to us. I remember this book so vividly nine years later
(Sundog, Misty and Pearl, in particular).
Sarah Schoen
For dog owners who want to understand who's REALLY in charge, this book is excellent! It takes the reader through the addition of several cats and dogs to a household in New Hampshire and narrates what happens through the eyes of an anthropologist.
Kjboester
Elizabeth Thomas has such a love and passion for animals which pours out in every word she writes. I laughed out loud, cried, and smiled through every chapter. This is not a truly scientific reading, but well worth the time.
Alicia Penney harnum
This book led me to the discovery of Anthropology and what I majored in in University. I love her writing. I didn't agree with everything she said, but I appreciated her opinions and honesty.
Jane
Unbelievably good reading. I have read this again and again, and lent it to friends. No-one I know can read it without a tear or two. It is a really exceptional book.
Karen Clarke
Awesome book everyone that shares their life and home with a dog or any animal should read it I love her respect for all animals very smart woman!
Caitlin Meisenbach
Great insight. Funny stories. Easy read. It'll make you think twice the next time you interact with your pooch.
Kaye
Such an interesting and well-written book. Now I'll have to reread The Hidden Lives of Dogs.
Jennifer
Very interesting experiement, and fascinating read.
Carolyn
Carolyn marked it as to-read
Jul 21, 2014
Sara Esse
Sara Esse marked it as to-read
Jul 20, 2014
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The Social Lives of Dogs 1 10 Nov 08, 2008 04:50PM  
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Elizabeth Marshall Thomas is the author of The Harmless People, a non fiction work about the Kung Bushmen of southwestern Africa, and of Reindeer Moon, a novel about the paleolithic hunter gatherers of Siberia, both of which were tremendous international successes. She lives in New Hampshire.
More about Elizabeth Marshall Thomas...
The Hidden Life Of Dogs Reindeer Moon (Reindeer Moon, #1) The Tribe of Tiger The Harmless People The Old Way: A Story of the First People

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