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

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  742 Ratings  ·  144 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Have you ever thought about what it would be like to be a dog? Or how a dog works? As an owner of three dogs, I have thought that every now and then. If you ever have, then you might want to read a book that I have recently read. It is a nonfiction book by Alexandra Horowitz, and it is called "Being a Dog; Following the dog into a World of Smell." The book is about dogs and their noses. It shows how the dog's nose works and what they do with them, along with extra data that the author has receiv ...more
Oct 16, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the sections of the book where the author focused on the dogs and their abilities to sense and interpret the world through odor. We are fostering our 11th (Military Working Dog) MWD puppy from the Breeding Program at Lackland. These dogs are all Belgian Malinois or Dutch Shepherds from European working dog stock, and they are bred to have excesses of courage, persistence, strength, and drive for bite work and detection. We have 4 adopted adult Malinois who live with us, and they all do N ...more
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
Toni Chanakas
I thought it was a very interesting exploration on what makes dogs' noses so amazing. One of my favorite concepts on how strong the dog's nose is: if someone makes a bomb-like apparatus and it blows up, the dog will know who made it. Your smell lingers even if it blows up. You can't fool that dog's nose. The author also gave us details on the structure of the dog's nose - the side slits help to absorb the smell and the dog sneezes to clear out all those smells then it can bring in new ones. I lo ...more
Alex Shrugged
I listened to the audiobook read my the author. She has a fabulous voice and a very good story. The focus of this book is on how dogs smell, how important it is for them and how they are used by humans to rescue people, find drugs, find truffles, sniff out cancer and the like. A large portion of the book is devoted to how humans smell and how we can train ourselves to smell more.

Just FYI, the author mentions how smells used to be part of a medical diagnosis. I agree that this can be important. W
Christopher Madsen
A fascinating journey up a dog's nose and how, to a dog, their world is defined by smell more than by any other sense. It has caused me to look at my own dog, Ramona, in a different way. I've started taking her on 'smell walks' where I allow her to sniff to her heart's content.

Having almost completely lost my sense of smell some years ago, the book also got me thinking about a whole demention of existance that is closed to me now except in memory. I was amazed to find that I can 'remember' how t
Roy Howard
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow! I learned so much about my beloved dog Patrick through this delightful book. His relentless smelling escapades are the way he experiences into his world. What astonished me is that I learned so much about expanding my own experience of the world through the sense of smell. The author explores in exquisite scientific detail the capacity of dogs to experience the world. What surprised me was the juxtaposition of how humans might deepen our our experience of the world through the sense of smel ...more
Debra Daniels-zeller
Jun 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dog, nonfiction
Well-researched this book has some great details about the dog's sense of smell. While I wasn't always impressed with the writing style (it felt more like a memoir--"I'm traveling and missing my own dogs," sort of phrases), I wanted to know more about the dog's sense of smell, not follow a person on their search for information. It often felt like I was reading details of a trip or an experiment that perhaps should have been edited out to make the story about canine sense of smell more intriguin ...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
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