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Being a Dog: Following the Dog Into a World of Smell

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  901 ratings  ·  170 reviews
A New York Times Bestseller
A Science Friday and Library Journal Best Science Book of the Year

Alexandra Horowitz, the author of the lively, highly informative New York Times bestselling blockbuster Inside of a Dog, explains how dogs perceive the world through their most spectacular organ—the nose—and how we humans can put our under-used sense of smell to work in surprising
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 4th 2016 by Scribner
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3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  901 ratings  ·  170 reviews

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Oct 23, 2018 rated it really liked it

Alexandra Horowitz teaches at Barnard College and runs the 'Dog Cognition Lab' there. Horowitz has penned many books about dogs, and - in this informative volume - writes about the sense of smell in dogs and humans.

Alexandra Horowitz

Alexandra Horowitz with her dogs, Finnegan and Upton

Horowitz begins with a brief introduction to her own canine snufflers, Finnegan and Upton, and goes on to describe the dog olfactory system in some detail. In short, odor molecules are sniffed into the dog's nostril
Oct 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
While this book is essentially a book about dogs, how they smell, sense, know the things they seem to know, it is that and more. How and why they are used to track people, things, more than I ever knew or thought about. It includes a significant amount of detail about a dog’s nose vs. a human nose. And it’s all fascinating. If you’ve ever contemplated why canines are used to sniff out anything and everything, or what your dog is smelling that you can’t, then this book will not only answer your q ...more
Aug 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who want to learn about smelling
Me, non-fiction and the Kindle--we're a match made in heaven. For naps. Understand, therefore, that the fact that it took me so long to finish the book actually doesn't reflect on how interesting it was, only the fact that my eyelids are quite heavy, and my bed quite comfortable.

Engagingly written, it still feels like a work that could benefit from a non-professional pass-through. At times, Horowitz seems more in love with her prose and concepts rather than actual, you know, facts. Rather that j
Aug 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
As a fan of Alexandra Horowitz's pop-animal-behavior-science book, Inside of a Dog, the contents of Being a Dog were something of a surprise. More reminiscent of Mary Roach's Gulp than its behavioral-science-heavy predecessor, Being a Dog is at least as much about the author's quest to experience the world through a dog's perceptions as it is about dogs themselves. Horowitz puts it best: just as books on animal comparative cognition tend to focus mostly on how the animals stack up against human ...more
Stephanie *Very Stable Genius*
I think the author has gone off her rocker, but in a nice way and not in a psychopathic killer way.

She was attempting to see the world as a dog does, through her nose. She was smelling all kinds of unpleasant things. Voluntarily. She even got down on her hands and knees and smelled the areas where her dog smelled whilst they were out on a walk.

I can think of so many other things to do on a Sunday afternoon.
Megan Baxter
I was a little uncertain about reading this book, even when it was sent to me by the publisher as an ARC. I mean, I read Horowitz's last book, Inside of a Dog, which I enjoyed even though I am not particularly a dog person. Particularly, it was helpful in letting me understand what is going on behind doggy eyes and noses a bit more. But from just the title, my question was whether or not this book was going to be very different. Are we just rehashing what I've already read?

Note: The rest of thi
Donna Davis
Horowitz is the author of Inside of a Dog, and here she follows it up with an examination of the sensory experiences a dog encounters, primarily that of smell. I received my DRC courtesy of Scribner and Net Galley in exchange for this honest review. And though I’ve never been a science maven, Horowitz’s unbridled enthusiasm for dogs had me at hello. It’s a book bound to engage any dog lover.

So, do you have a dog?

I’ve had a dog nearly all of my 58 years, with a brief interim here and there. I’ve
Carol Kean
Aug 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Our fifth sense, smell, has dwindled as we evolved. Domesticating the dog may have contributed to our decreased reliance on our own sniffing skills but the upside of that, I read somewhere, is that this sacrifice freed up our brain capacity and so we became top dog, masters of all other creatures. And yet dog remains at our side, loyal, sniffy, and eager to serve. Alexandra Horowitz captures this magic in her prose.

She also delivers some solid science, and more details on the anatomy of a dog's
Vikas Datta
Nov 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Most informative and thought-provoking but also hugely entertaining... a must for all dog-lovers
Christine Merrill
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
As a dog-owner, made me think a lot about how my pup experiences the world--and encouraged me to take her on more "smelling" walks to reinvigorate her own innate sense of smell! Recommend for dog owners, especially for breeds with better noses than pugs.
Apr 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is more than just a dog book, it's a science book. Alexandra Horowitz is a great author and I love reading as she discovers new things about dogs and humans. I've found myself taking time to observe via my nose. Im so glad I read this book.
Karen A. Wyle
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
I acquired and read this book as part of researching a possible future novel, but would have found it engrossing, informative, and entertaining in any event. It has also inspired me to pay more attention to the odors around me -- especially when I walk my dog.

There are occasional redundancies, but few.

Along with all the information and anecdotes, the narrative is sprinkled with evocative descriptions of various odors.
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I always knew that animals were better "smellers" than people. It is very obvious that their noses are different than humans but to what extent? Well I guess I never really gave it much thought. But in this book, not only does Alexandra Horowitz explain the anatomical differences between animal and human but also the big differences in dogs' smelling abilities compared to other animals. And she does it in a most interesting manner. All dogs are extraordinary smellers, if we let them be dogs. And ...more
Shannon Weynand
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I could read A.Horowitz’s descriptions about dogs forever and never tire of them. She is poetic and precise and insightful. I loved anything that talked about how dogs smell, how scent detection dogs are trained, how we are constantly un-training our pet dogs. This book fell flat for me in Horowitz’s descriptions of her own smell journey. This lasted multiple chapters in the middle of the book. When this book stopped talking about dogs directly, I put it down for a few weeks before coming back. ...more
Apr 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you like dogs, and wonder about their behaviors and abilities, then this book is for you. Everyone knows that dogs' sense of smell is far superior to humans'. But did you know, for example, that a dog trained to find whale poop (which will only float in the ocean for 30 minutes) can locate it from a boat? This book, while not a page turner, is fascinating.
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Although I read this book very slowly - I thoroughly enjoyed learning about our sense of smell. Loved the adventure of seeing the world through a dog's nose! Learned a lot about my dog's natural behaviors. I accept the sniff challenge : )
High Plains Library District
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult, cindy
Alexandra Horowitz of Barnard College’s Dog Cognition Lab writes as well as she smells. That’s not a comment on her scent, but on her ability to smell, her olfactory processes. More to the point, she not only can “sniff out” a story and style it intelligently and humorously, but can enlighten her reader about the gift of the sense of smell, the power of sniffing, olfaction and the brain, and the incredible ways in which dogs’ “nosework” serves human needs. Even wafts of old books and literary al ...more
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc-review-copy
reflections: I've always been fascinated by the dog's power of scent. My favorite mystery book series 20 years ago was the Bloodhound series by Virginia Lanier. I've enjoyed other books about dog scent ability: What the Dog Knows: The Science and Wonder of Working Dogs by Cat Warren and Elle & Coach: Diabetes, the Fight for My Daughter's Life, and the Dog Who Changed Everything.

Being a Dog: Following the Dog Into a World of Smell is the newest on the list. Have you ever wondered why a dog ro
Ashley Farren
Feb 17, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was not what I expected.

After reading Horowitz’s first book, I expected this book to be similar. To delve more in depth into understanding dog perceptions and thus behavior. However, this book was not that.

This book was more focused on how humans “don’t” smell rather than the way that dogs “do”. Horowitz takes you on a journey, in which she attempts to smell more in the way her dogs do. In essence she “becomes a dog”. (Although she concludes that she will never experience fully what
Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bests, read-2016, dog
Brilliant! Alexandra is so smart, brave, creative, funny & able to express it well. I've enjoyed all of her books & this one was the best yet. Life-changing even (especially having read her other 2 books). I have always given my pup free reign to smell & watched his explorations with mild interest but now I am smelling more things myself. I have always loved his barnyard smell but now I know the sweet hay smell comes from his paw pads. Now I know that my cat smells dusty with more of ...more
Chris Cutter
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really informative book on both the physiology and psychology of human and canine sense of smell. Book serves as a great compare and contrast between our species sniffing abilities, with a little dog owner memoir mixed in. Dr. Horowitz writes in a way that both professionals and lay-people can read without getting bored or overwhelmed. That being said, however, I wish she included a little bit more dog physiology/psychology in this book.
Mar 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting read. I have to admit to being a little disappointed that the journey to "Following the Dog into a World of Smell" was mostly the author's. I know it's challenging to write a non-textbook about the canine sense of smell for the layperson and Horowitz did a nice job combining research and anecdotes about the subject. I especially enjoyed her forays into doggie scenting, from specialized service dog training centers to the fun of nosework for the household pup. The book made me rethink ...more
Margaret Sankey
Jan 07, 2017 rated it liked it
This a lively exploration of dogs' sensory world--from the biology of their noses to experiments that explain why, if you have a regular schedule, dogs can tell when you're about to come home (they time it by how your smell fades). Horowitz uses both science and observations from her own two pets for vivid examples, and you can't beat bits like how, due to physics and mammalian biology, almost all total bladder voiding happens in 21 seconds.
Nov 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this exploration of how a dog "sees" the world through his nose. It's as readable as a kind of clinical study can be. Contains lots of anecdotes and experiments by the author as well as tips for us humans to regain some of our lost sense of smell. Especially fascinating if you are a dog owner - you're walks will take on new meaning!
Jun 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Great insight on the power of a dog's nose. After reading this book, I have been noticing more how my dogs are using their noses and I am quite impressed with their nasal talents. As an example, they both know when there is a bunny rabbit under the deck or under the shed. Overall the book was interesting, however, it was slow at times and sometimes repetitive.
Fred Ceppa
Dec 28, 2017 rated it did not like it
It started well but she digressed very quickly to the human smell/nose. Then to spend a chapter on her own personal smell experience is neither interesting nor informative it is space filler. If I read one more time the smell of books. Awful and boring
Nov 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Really fun read. Went into it thinking I'd just learn about how my dog experiences his world, but came out of it understanding better how I do (or don't) take advantage of the fact that I have a working nose. And, as always, Horowitz's prose is top notch science writing.
Nov 09, 2017 rated it liked it
A lot of good information, but the author can be overly verbose at times. I’d like to read a condensed version of this book (e.g. a National Geographic-type article would probably be enough for me).

May 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Um, was this more about humans than dogs? I think so. I really wanted to learn about dogs, so I was slightly disappointed.

But as always Horowitz is a wonderful writer, so this is pretty compelling.
Alyssa Montgomery
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
Have you ever wondered how strong a dog’s nose actually is? Recently, I read the book Being a Dog: Following the Dog into a World of Smell written by Alexandra Horowitz. The title obviously gives away what the book is about. This non fiction book is all about noses, not just dogs, but also humans. In this story, Alexandra Horowitz blows your mind away with plenty of facts about a dog’s nose. She also tells about humans and how we often ignore our sense of smell. Horowitz goes through lots of res ...more
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Alexandra Horowitz is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Barnard College in New York, where she teaches courses on psychology and animal behavior. She is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller “Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know.” Her studies on dogs have explored their ‘guilty look,’ sense of fairness, play signaling, and olfactory abilities, am ...more