Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know” as Want to Read:
Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  14,448 ratings  ·  1,991 reviews
The bestselling book that asks what dogs know and how they think. The answers will surprise and delight you as Alexandra Horowitz, a cognitive scientist, explains how dogs perceive their daily worlds, each other, and that other quirky animal, the human.

Temple Grandin meets Stephen Pinker in this engaging and informative look at what goes on inside the minds of dogs—from a
Hardcover, 353 pages
Published September 15th 2009 by Scribner (first published January 1st 2009)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Inside of a Dog, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Rachel P I know this question was asked two years ago, so you are likely not looking for an answer anymore, but there may be someone else who is. Therefore, I …moreI know this question was asked two years ago, so you are likely not looking for an answer anymore, but there may be someone else who is. Therefore, I decided to answer the question. "Inside of a Dog" is a nonfiction book about why dogs do what they do, which is a result of what they know and how they think. It was written by a cognitive scientist who not only loves dogs but has had them her whole life. As a note, the genres for a book can usually be found to the right above "About the Author" with at times even more discernible details through the "See top Shelves" button. Once again, please note that this answer is mostly to help others, as you have likely moved on at this point.(less)
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth SteinA Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce CameronMarley and Me by John GroganWhere the Red Fern Grows by Wilson RawlsThe Call of the Wild by Jack London
Great "Dog" Books
1,127 books — 1,921 voters
A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce CameronThe Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth SteinMarley and Me by John GroganThe Call of the Wild by Jack LondonWhere the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
Dog Lovers
551 books — 652 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  14,448 ratings  ·  1,991 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know
May 27, 2010 rated it it was ok
"Date I finished this book" should be "Date I stopped reading this book."
I kept hoping that it would become more interesting, but, on page 180 I finally gave up.

I wanted to like this book. She sets the groundwork that while we humans spend a lot of time with dogs, we actually know very little about them. So she tackled the research to actually learn about dogs (it implied that she was doing the research since she earlier said very little research had been done on dogs).

First annoyance: it seems
Grace Tjan
Me: “Well, here’s the book I told you about, Molly, the one that will tell me everything there is to know about you.”

Molly: “Woof!”

Me: “Yes, that’s a good girl! Let’s see, this book is written by Dr. Alexandra Horowitz, a cognitive scientist specializing in animal research. She must be one smart lady. And she’s also a dog person! This should be interesting. Let’s loll on the sofa and read it.”

Molly: (jumps up and looks expectantly)

Me: “The title is a part of a joke: “Outside of a dog, a book
Jul 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 4-star, dogs
Alexandra Horowitz racked up major brownie points right from the beginning with this book. The title comes from one of my favorite quotes ever, from the mouth of Groucho Marx. Also, early on she heads complaints off at the pass by stating that she is using "owner" rather than "pet parent" or some other such silly phrasing because that's the legal term, and she will use "him" and "his" when referring to dogs in general because that's the English default, and, knowing dogs as she does, "it" is not ...more
Dec 21, 2010 rated it did not like it
Incredibly dry AND pretentious ... I couldn't even finish the book. I have a dog and have fostered and volunteered for many shelters and rescues so I am always amazed and intrigued at how each dog I've met has a different personality. This book lacks what its subjects have in overflowing abundance. The author might as well have been writing a manual on understanding robots or clinical notes about mice in a cage, as nearly every sentence was cold, flat and gratuitously verbose. I'm not one who ge ...more
Aug 22, 2018 rated it liked it

Longwinded at times but still interesting; providing a treasure trove of insights into man’s best friend.
Mar 14, 2010 rated it it was ok
This is a disappointing book, with few insights for a dog owner or someone interested in animal behavior. Despite having an extensive collection of footnotes leading back to the scientific literature, the conclusions of the book could have been handled in 60 pages instead of 300:
• Dogs are not color blind but blues and greens stand out for them. Yellow/orange/red objects are all undifferentiated.
• Short vision is not very good (though smell can compensate for it when objects are close to the muz
Mar 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."

Inside of a Dog is a valuable read for anyone seeking to learn more about our furry companions. Horowitz starts with the basics, focusing on a dog's umwelt and the ways that it differs from a human's. Dogs aren't colorblind, but their perception of color does differ from ours. Scent is far more important in the doggy world than it is to us. Most important of all, dogs and humans simply see different af
Katrina Michie
May 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book totally changed how I see and interact with dogs. It seems like common sense to me now, but it gave me a whole new appreciation for dogs.

I was hoping this would be more like Radiolab's brand of science, or maybe a Mary Roach type of look at dogs, but it's not quite as much of a page turner--maybe because it's actually written by a scientist and not a journalist. This is a benefit in a lot of ways though. I would still really recommend it if you are all about your dog(s) like I am and
Jennifer (aka EM)
Mar 10, 2011 rated it liked it
This is a lovely, unsentimental, fairly thorough, scientifically-grounded look at the dog-human bond: how it evolved, how the canine's sensory equipment shapes his (or her) world and relationship with us, and how a deeper understanding of that world - "the inside of a dog" (yes, from the Groucho Marx quotation) - should shape ours with them. Didn't so much change or illuminate, but anchored what I think I know about my dog and dogs in general in explanations of canine behaviour drawn from the au ...more
Dec 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
Recommended to John by: Valerie
A 2.5

This book was a little disappointing for me. I wanted to get it as a Christmas present for some dog owner friends. Instead they are getting a bicycle pump. Although full of some interesting thoughts and research data, overall the book felt a bit dull, a bit lacking. It is neither practical enough to be an owner’s manual, nor detailed enough to satisfy my interest in the experiments behind the ideas. It seems to try to tread a middle road between pop and intellectual, and instead turned me o
Daniel Solera
Dec 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
I saw this book on a bestsellers shelf at the Barnes and Noble by where I work. Having become a dog-owner in August, I picked this up hoping it would be insightful and entertaining. The book aptly declares that it is not a training manual and that readers shouldn't expect tips on how to raise a proper puppy. Instead, it is a psychological examination of dogs, including what they know, what their world is like and how we fit into it.

Alexandra Horowitz attempts to explain such baffling questions a
Dec 11, 2010 rated it it was ok
This book did make me appreciate my dog a little more but I found it to be too dry and boring for the most part to give it a higher rating. I also found many eye-rolling moments- she seems a very permissive dog parent. For example, advocating that the dog should be allowed to wander and smell anything and roll in anything, ect, during walks; should be allowed to "smell like a dog" as long as possible; sleep in your bed with you.... I just personally am of camp that believes my dog should work ar ...more
Ron Wroblewski
Oct 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: animals
Great book about dog research and how dogs and humans are so compatible. Also discussed research of other animals and compares that with dogs. Discusses dogs perceptual and cognitive abilities and how they depend so much on the sense of smell. Enjoyed the discussion on how dogs play with each other and the signels they give on invitation to play, and how to play. Important book for those who work with dogs in shelters and in training schools.
Lisa Reads & Reviews
Jun 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I normally find animal behavioral science to be a fascinating subject. Some interesting information can be found in this book, but I had to wade through a bunch of slush to get to it. The best bits were talked about on NPR when the book was first published. Too bad, really, that I could hardly keep my eyes open while reading most of it. Two stars: it was okay.
Jan 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
I usually don’t include autobiographical information in a book review, but in this case I’ll make an exception! Like Alexandra Horowitz, I am and always will be a dog person and since the day I was born, a doggie has shared my world. It all started with Marshmallow, a lovely golden mutt who lived amongst us until I was 13-years old (she was 16 at the time). Then, to my wonderful pleasure, my parents first adopted Roxy, the quirky basset hound, and then came Maggie the English Bulldog…and this is ...more
She's very long-winded. The introduction took forever & probably was a good enough synopsis of the book. There wasn't much there even after a good 4 hours of listening - almost halfway through.

Her point about breeds being indicative of general behavior given similar upbringing was repetitious, to put it kindly. Her comparison between wolf & dog behavior was poor. I agree with her conclusion that not all behavior should be attributed to the wolf root nor the human breeding & interaction. It does
Nov 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." Groucho Marx
Alexandra Horowitz has taken up Groucho's challenge and given us a book that at least we can read about the inside of a dog. Clearly a dog lover she has written a valentine to man's best friend.
What makes dogs uniquely suited to that special status? What's going on behind those big brown eyes? You will find answers to these and many more questions - such as why the swich to digital TV has made it
Jessica Blevins
Jan 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Great insight into the life of a dog...I highly recommend. The book is mostly scientific studies of how dogs really see, smell, hear and what they know about their human owners...but includes personal anecdotes throughout as well. I learned a lot about dogs in general and definitely look at my dog in a different light now. For example, I learned that dogs look to humans when they need help or can't figure something out...and that they pay a lot of attention to us, even when we don't realize it. ...more
May 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book is a very interestig read for true dog lovers who want to get into the brain of their dog(s). However, I found this book a bit too scientific and, thus, somewhat strenuous to read. For this reason, 4 stars might be a bit over-rated. 3 1/2 stars would be more like it.
Kellynn Wee
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So: I recently got a dog. His name is Chai; he's at least part Shih Tzu, although a bit too leggy to fully qualify as such. I've read Horowitz's "On Looking", which I enjoyed, and I thought that this was probably a good time to learn what the umwelt--the universe; the way of seeing--of my dog was. I thought this would be a breezy read but found myself welling up at several points. This book has been mischaracterised as overly verbose and technical when I found it to be the exact opposite. Horowi ...more
Apr 04, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Though primed to love this read before ever setting eyes to type by a bone-deep interest in both the scientific (animal behavioral studies) and emotional (I'm nuts for dogs!) subject matter, I was somewhat surprisingly less than wholly engaged by either (treatments of the subject matter) and left rather profoundly unsatisfied upon the arrival of the last page turned: a failure not of writing, but rather one of content. Or perhaps I should clarify that as content unanticipated.

Written in an acce
Ana Rusness-petersen
The first thing that must be said about this book is that it was obviously written by someone who loves dogs, and opened my eyes to truly interacting and living with a dog as a friend, rather than as a being to be taken care of and trained like a child, as someone to be understood and developmentally enhanced.

It was a little challenging to really get engrossed in at the beginning, and was much more scientific than the anecdotal adventure I was expecting when I selected this book off the shelf at
Ryan Holiday
Jun 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was only halfway through this book when I left it on an airplane and lost it. It took me a week to get a new copy, at which point I had completely forgotten most of the notes I had made in the first few chapters. If you can avoid this problem you should read it, and do so continuously because it has a flow that serves it well. The book is about dogs and the study of dogs but in the scientific rather than the ownership sense.

This means she did real experiments, is a real expert and isn't just p
Clif Hostetler
Dec 22, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all dog owners.
Shelves: science
Haven't we all wondered what our dogs think of us? This is the next best thing to reading a book written by a dog. I am not a current dog owner, but I grew up on a farm with multiple dogs. Over the years I had read that those dogs of my youth saw me as the leader of their pack. This book debunks that myth. This book says they considered me to be be their a meal ticket. What a come down! All these years I thought I was the "Alpha Dog."

The purpose of the book is to help people to understand what's
Apr 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you have a dog, if you're a dog person or an all around animal person - you have to read Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know by Alexandra Horowitz.

"Go look at a dog. Go on, look---maybe at one lying near you right now, curled around his folded legs on a dog bed, or sprawled on his side on the tile floor, paws flitting through the pasture of a dream. Take a good look---and now forget everything you know about this or any dog.

"This is admittedly a ridiculous exhortation...What we'l
Oct 20, 2010 rated it liked it
Liked it. Kind of skimmed some parts of it. Didn't learn as much as I thought I would. Was already aware of a lot of the concepts - how important smell is, that dogs are still animals no matter how much we want them to have human characteristics. New to me: Dogs' eyes have a faster "flicker-rate" than humans. Imagine that the speed of our vision processing is to a dog like us watching an old silent movie where we see the flickers between frames. That's what our vision would be to a dog. Therefor ...more
David Buccola
Jan 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If you love dogs, I really cannot imagine a better book to read. Alexandra Horowitz brings the latest and greatest scientific insights on dog behavior to us, the average dog lover, in the most grounded accessible way imaginable. While the science is fascinating and has definitely helped me better understand my pups, what I really loved was the way Horowitz discusses the limits to what science can research.

The book centers on this idea of umwelt, which according to Horowitz, "which originated wi
Sep 27, 2009 rated it liked it
Horowitwz is a scientist, after all. She has rigorously edited her book so that it is accessible to non-scientists, and tries to tell us which of the dog behaviors we observe are actually what we may believe them to be. Are dogs as knowledgeable as they appear? What do their behaviors signify? But first she must describe what she will do, set the parameters, explain her approach...I did not become engaged until late in the game, when Horowitz gave us a section on "theory of mind": can the dog kn ...more
Dec 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: animals, audiobooks
I had always imagined that my girls experience the world so differently than I do - I'd pictured a hyper-reality of smells, colors, sounds - and this book confirms that a dog's world is indeed more "sensory" than our own. Not surprisingly, their noses are their primary sensory organ, while humans rely more on their eyes. Smells tell their story, and it appears that there is no smell that dogs find repugnant, in fact, the stinkier something is to humans, the more dogs seem to love it!

Dog behavio
Nov 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
I bought this book because I liked the cover very much. After reading it, I can say that this book is:

-Very informative:
1-I had an insight of the efforts made to study animal cognition.
2-It was also interesting to know how the relationship between dog and man evolved.
3-Dogs senses and body language were extensively covered.

1-Around 300 pages with too much repetition of some points made clear from the first time already; perhaps, intended for dogs who can read! I had to stop reading sev
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs
  • How To Speak Dog: Mastering the Art of Dog-Human Communication
  • Dog Sense: How the New Science of Dog Behavior Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet
  • Zak George's Guide to a Well-Behaved Dog: Proven Solutions to the Most Common Training Problems for All Ages, Breeds, and Mixes
  • Zak George's Dog Training Revolution: The Complete Guide to Raising the Perfect Pet with Love
  • The Culture Clash
  • The Secret Language of Dogs: Unlocking the Canine Mind for a Happier Pet
  • The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter than You Think
  • How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain
  • Don't Shoot the Dog!: The New Art of Teaching and Training
  • Unleashing Your Dog: A Field Guide to Giving Your Canine Companion the Best Life Possible
  • From Fearful to Fear Free: A Positive Program to Free Your Dog from Anxiety, Fears, and Phobias
  • Decoding Your Dog: The Ultimate Experts Explain Common Dog Behaviors and Reveal How to Prevent or Change Unwanted Ones
  • Before and After Getting Your Puppy: The Positive Approach to Raising a Happy, Healthy, and Well-Behaved Dog
  • For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend
  • Meet Your Dog: The Game-Changing Guide to Understanding Your Dog's Behavior (Dog Training Book, Dog Breed Behavior Book)
  • Let Dogs Be Dogs: Understanding Canine Nature and Mastering the Art of Living with Your Dog
  • Dog Is Love: Why and How Your Dog Loves You
See similar books…
See top shelves…
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

News & Interviews

When it comes to whiling away the dog days of summer, nothing is better than a good book. Or two. Or three. Let’s say ten! We’re getting...
29 likes · 5 comments
“Few celebrate a dog who jumps at people as they approach--but start with the premise that it is we who keep ourselves (and our faces) unbearably far away, and we can come to a mutual understanding.” 11 likes
“By standard intelligence texts, the dogs have failed at the puzzle. I believe, by contrast that they have succeeded magnificently. They have applied a novel tool to the task. We are that tool. Dogs have learned this--and they see us as fine general-purpose tools, too: useful for protection, acquiring food, providing companionship. We solve the puzzles of closed doors and empty water dishes. In the folk psychology of dogs, we humans are brilliant enough to extract hopelessly tangled leashes from around trees; we can conjure up an endless bounty of foodstuffs and things to chew. How savvy we are in dogs' eyes! It's a clever strategy to turn to us after all. The question of the cognitive abilities of dogs is thereby transformed; dogs are terrific at using humans to solve problems, but not as good at solving problems when we're not around.” 9 likes
More quotes…