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Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Alexandra Horowitz
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Descriptions du produit

Extrait

Inside of a Dog

Prelude


First you see the head. Over the crest of the hill appears a muzzle, drooling. It is as yet not visibly attached to anything. A limb jangles into view, followed in unhasty succession by a second, third, and fourth, bearing a hundred and forty pounds of body between them. The wolfhound, three feet at his shoulder and five feet to his tail, spies the long-haired Chihuahua, half a dog high, hidden in the grasses between her owner’s feet. The Chihuahua is six pounds, each of them trembling. With one languorous leap, his ears perked high, the wolfhound arrives in front of the Chihuahua. The Chihuahua looks demurely away; the wolfhound bends down to Chihuahua level and nips her side. The Chihuahua looks back at the hound, who raises his rear end up in the air, tail held high, in preparation to attack. Instead of fleeing from this apparent danger, the Chihuahua matches his pose and leaps onto the wolfhound’s face, embracing his nose with her tiny paws. They begin to play.

For five minutes these dogs tumble, grab, bite, and lunge at each other. The wolfhound throws himself onto his side and the little dog responds with attacks to his face, belly, and paws. A swipe by the hound sends the Chihuahua scurrying backward, and she timidly sidesteps out of his reach. The hound barks, jumps up, and arrives back on his feet with a thud. At this, the Chihuahua races toward one of those feet and bites it, hard. They are in mid-embrace—the hound with his mouth surrounding the body of the Chihuahua, the Chihuahua kicking back at the hound’s face—when an owner snaps a leash on the hound’s collar and pulls him upright and away. The Chihuahua rights herself, looks after them, barks once, and trots back to her owner.

These dogs are so incommensurable with each other that they may as well be different species. The ease of play between them always puzzled me. The wolfhound bit, mouthed, and charged at the Chihuahua; yet the little dog responded not with fright but in kind. What explains their ability to play together? Why doesn’t the hound see the Chihuahua as prey? Why doesn’t the Chihuahua see the wolfhound as predator? The answer turns out to have nothing to do with the Chihuahua’s delusion of canine grandeur or the hound’s lack of predatory drive. Neither is it simply hardwired instinct taking over.

There are two ways to learn how play works—and what playing dogs are thinking, perceiving, and saying: be born as a dog, or spend a lot of time carefully observing dogs. The former was unavailable to me. Come along as I describe what I’ve learned by watching.

diagram

I am a dog person.

My home has always had a dog in it. My affinity for dogs began with our family dog, Aster, with his blue eyes, lopped tail, and nighttime neighborhood ramblings that often left me up late, wearing pajamas and worry, waiting for his midnight return. I long mourned the death of Heidi, a springer spaniel who ran with excitement—my childhood imagination had her tongue trailing out of the side of her mouth and her long ears blown back with the happy vigor of her run—right under a car’s tires on the state highway near our home. As a college student, I gazed with admiration and affection at an adopted chow mix Beckett as she stoically watched me leave for the day.

And now at my feet lies the warm, curly, panting form of Pumpernickel—Pump—a mutt who has lived with me for all of her sixteen years and through all of my adulthood. I have begun every one of my days in five states, five years of graduate school, and four jobs with her tail-thumping greeting when she hears me stir in the morning. As anyone who considers himself a dog person will recognize, I cannot imagine my life without this dog.

I am a dog person, a lover of dogs. I am also a scientist.

I study animal behavior. Professionally, I am wary of anthropomorphizing animals, attributing to them the feelings, thoughts, and desires that we use to describe ourselves. In learning how to study the behavior of animals, I was taught and adhered to the scientist’s code for describing actions: be objective; do not explain a behavior by appeal to a mental process when explanation by simpler processes will do; a phenomenon that is not publicly observable and confirmable is not the stuff of science. These days, as a professor of animal behavior, comparative cognition, and psychology, I teach from masterful texts that deal in quantifiable fact. They describe everything from hormonal and genetic explanations for the social behavior of animals, to conditioned responses, fixed action patterns, and optimal foraging rates, in the same steady, objective tone.

And yet.

Most of the questions my students have about animals remain quietly unanswered in these texts. At conferences where I have presented my research, other academics inevitably direct the postlecture conversations to their own experiences with their pets. And I still have the same questions I’d always had about my own dog—and no sudden rush of answers. Science, as practiced and reified in texts, rarely addresses our experiences of living with and attempting to understand the minds of our animals.

In my first years of graduate school, when I began studying the science of the mind, with a special interest in the minds of non-human animals, it never occurred to me to study dogs. Dogs seemed so familiar, so understood. There is nothing to be learned from dogs, colleagues claimed: dogs are simple, happy creatures whom we need to train and feed and love, and that is all there is to them. There is no data in dogs. That was the conventional wisdom among scientists. My dissertation advisor studied, respectably, baboons: primates are the animals of choice in the field of animal cognition. The assumption is that the likeliest place to find skills and cognition approaching our own is in our primate brethren. That was, and remains, the prevailing view of behavioral scientists. Worse still, dog owners seemed to have already covered the territory of theorizing about the dog mind, and their theories were generated from anecdotes and misapplied anthropomorphisms. The very notion of the mind of a dog was tainted.

And yet.

I spent many recreational hours during my years of graduate school in California in the local dog parks and beaches with Pumpernickel. At the time I was in training as an ethologist, a scientist of animal behavior. I joined two research groups observing highly social creatures: the white rhinoceros at the Wild Animal Park in Escondido, and the bonobos (pygmy chimpanzees) at the Park and the San Diego Zoo. I learned the science of careful observations, data gathering, and statistical analysis. Over time, this way of looking began seeping into those recreational hours at the dog parks. Suddenly the dogs, with their fluent travel between their own social world and that of people, became entirely unfamiliar: I stopped seeing their behavior as simple and understood.

Where I once saw and smiled at play between Pumpernickel and the local bull terrier, I now saw a complex dance requiring mutual cooperation, split-second communications, and assessment of each other’s abilities and desires. The slightest turn of a head or the point of a nose now seemed directed, meaningful. I saw dogs whose owners did not understand a single thing their dogs were doing; I saw dogs too clever for their playmates; I saw people misreading canine requests as confusion and delight as aggression. I began bringing a video camera with us and taping our outings at the parks. At home I watched the tapes of dogs playing with dogs, of people ball- and Frisbee-tossing to their dogs—tapes of chasing, fighting, petting, running, barking. With new sensitivity to the possible richness of social interactions in an entirely non-linguistic world, all of these once ordinary activities now seemed to me to be an untapped font of information. When I began watching the videos in extremely slow-motion playback, I saw behaviors I had never seen in years of living with dogs. Examined closely, simple play frolicking between two dogs became a dizzying series of synchronous behaviors, active role swapping, variations on communicative displays, flexible adaptation to others’ attention, and rapid movement between highly diverse play acts.

What I was seeing were snapshots of the minds of the dogs, visible in the ways they communicated with each other and tried to communicate with the people around them—and, too, in the way they interpreted other dogs’ and people’s actions.

I never saw Pumpernickel—or any dog—the same way again. Far from being a killjoy on the delights of interacting with her, though, the spectacles of science gave me a rich new way to look at what she was doing: a new way to understand life as a dog.

Since those first hours of viewing, I have studied dogs at play: playing with other dogs and playing with people. At the time I was unwittingly part of a sea change taking place in science’s attitude toward studying dogs. The transformation is not yet complete, but the landscape of dog research is already remarkably different than it was twenty years ago. Where once there was an inappreciable number of studies of dog cognition and behavior, there are now conferences on the dog, research groups devoted to studying the dog, experimental and ethological studies on the dog in the United States and abroad, and dog research results sprinkled through scientific journals. The scientists doing this work have seen what I have seen: the dog is a perfect entry into the study of non-human animals. Dogs have lived with human beings for thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of years. Through the artificial selection of domestication, they have evolved to be sensitive to just those things that importantly make up our cognition, including, critically, attention to others.

In this book I introduce you to the science of the dog. Scientists working in laboratories and in the field, studying working dogs and companion dogs, have gathered an impressive amount of information on the biology of dogs—their sensory abilities, their behavior—and on the psychology of dogs—their cognition. Drawing from the accumulated results of hundreds of research programs, we can begin to create a picture of the dog from the inside—of the skill of his nose, what he hears, how his eyes turn to us, and the brain behind it all. The dog cognition work reviewed includes my own but extends far beyond it to summarize all the results from recent research. For some topics on which there is no reliable information yet on dogs, I incorporate studies on other animals that might help us understand a dog’s life, too. (For those whose appetite for the original research articles is whetted by the accounts herein, full citations appear at the book’s end.)

We do no disservice to dogs by stepping away from the leash and considering them scientifically. Their abilities and point of view merit special attention. And the result is magnificent: far from being distanced by science, we are brought closer to and can marvel at the true nature of the dog. Used rigorously but creatively, the process and results of science can shed new light on discussions that people have daily about what their dog knows, understands, or believes. Through my personal journey, learning to look systemically and scientifically at my own dog’s behavior, I came to have a better understanding of, appreciation of, and relationship with her.

I’ve gotten inside of the dog, and have glimpsed the dog’s point of view. You can do the same. If you have a dog in the room with you, what you see in that great, furry pile of dogness is about to change.

A PREFATORY NOTE ON THE DOG, TRAINING, AND OWNERS

Calling a dog “the dog”


It is the nature of scientific study of non-human animals that a few individual animals who have been thoroughly poked, observed, trained, or dissected come to represent their entire species. Yet with humans we never let one person’s behavior stand for all of our behavior. If one man fails to solve a Rubik’s cube in an hour, we do not extrapolate from that that all men will so fail (unless that man had bested every other man alive). Here our sense of individuality is stronger than our sense of shared biology. When it comes to describing our potential physical and cognitive capacities, we are individuals first, and members of the human race second.

By contrast, with animals the order is reversed. Science considers animals as representatives of their species first, and as individuals second. We are accustomed to seeing a single animal or two kept in a zoo as representative of their species; to zoo management, they are even unwitting “ambassadors” of the species. Our view of the uniformity of species members is well exemplified in our comparison of their intelligence. To test the hypothesis, long popular, that having a bigger brain indicates greater intelligence, the brain volumes of chimpanzees, monkeys, and rats were compared with human brains. Sure enough, the chimp’s brain is smaller than ours, the monkey’s smaller than the chimp’s, the rat’s a mere cerebellum-sized node of the primates’ brains. That much of the story is fairly well known. What is more surprising is that the brains used, for comparative purposes, were the brains of just two or three chimpanzees and monkeys. These couple of animals unlucky enough to lose their heads for science were henceforth considered perfectly representative monkeys and chimps. But we had no idea if they happened to be particularly big-brained monkeys, or abnormally small-brained chimps.1

Similarly, if a single animal or small group of animals fails in a psychological experiment, the species is tainted with the brush of failure. Although grouping animals by biological similarity is clearly useful shorthand, there is a strange result: we tend to speak of the species as though all members of the species were identical. We never make this slip with humans. If a dog, given the choice between a pile of twenty biscuits and a pile of ten biscuits, chooses the latter, the conclusion is often stated with the definite article: “the dog” cannot distinguish between large and small piles—not “a dog” cannot so distinguish.

So when I talk about the dog, I am talking implicitly about those dogs studied to date. The results of many well-performed experiments may eventually allow us to reasonably generalize to all dogs, period. But even then, the variations among individual dogs will be great: your dog may be an unusually good smeller, may never look you in the eye, may love his dog bed and hate to be touched. Not every behavior a dog does should be interpreted as telling, taken as something intrinsic or fantastic; sometimes they just are, just as we are. That said, what I offer herein is the known capacity of the dog; your results may be different.

Training dogs


This is not a dog training book. Still, its contents might lead you to be able to train your dog, inadvertently. This will catch us up to dogs, who have already, without a tome on people, learned how to train us without our realizing it.

The dog training literature and the dog cognition and behavior literatures do not overlap greatly. Dog trainers do use a few basic tenets from psychology and ethology—sometimes to great effect, sometimes to disastrous end. Most training operates on the principle of associative learning. Associations between events are easily learned by all animals, including humans. Associative learning is what is behind “operant” conditioning paradigms, which provide a reward (a treat, attention, a toy, a pat) after the occurrence of a desired behavior (a dog sitting down). Through repeated application, one can shape a new, desired behavior in a dog—be it lying down and rolling over, or, for the ambitious, calmly Jet-Skiing behind a motorboat.

But often the tenets of training clash with the scientific study of the dog. For instance, many trainers use the analogy of dog-as-tame-wolf as informative in how we should see and treat dogs. An analogy can only be as good as its source. In this case, as we will see, scientists know a limited amount about natural wolf behavior—and what we know often contradicts the conventional wisdom used to bolster those analogies.

In addition, training methods are not scientifically tested, despite some trainers’ assertions to the contrary. That is, no training program has been evaluated by comparing the performance of an experimental group that gets training and a control group whose life is identical except for the absence of the training program. People who come to trainers often share two unusual features: their dogs are less “obedient” than the average dog, and the owners are more motivated to change them than the average owner. It is very likely, given this combination of conditions and a few months, that the dog will behave differently after training, almost regardless of what the training is.

Training successes are exciting, but they do not prove that the training method is what led to the success. The success could be indicative of good training. But it could also be a happy accident. It could also be the result of more attention being paid to the dog over the course of the program. It could be the result of the dog’s maturing over the course of the program. It could be the result of that bullying dog down the street moving away. In other words, the success could be the result of dozens of other co-occurring changes in the dog’s life. We cannot distinguish these possibilities without rigorous scientific testing.

Most critically, training is usually tailored to the owner—to change the dog to fit the owner’s conception of the role of the dog, and of what he wants the dog to do. This goal is quite different than our aim: looking to see what the dog actually does, and what he wants from and understands of you.

The dog and his owner


It is increasingly in vogue to speak not of pet ownership but pet guardianship, or pet companions. Clever writers talk of dogs’ “humans,” turning the ownership arrow back on ourselves. In this book I call dogs’ families owners simply because this term describes the legal relationship we have with dogs: peculiarly, they are still considered property (and property of little compensatory value, besides breeding value, a lesson I hope no reader ever has to learn personally). I will celebrate the day when dogs are not property which we own. Until then, I use the word owner apolitically, for convenience and with no other motive. This motive guides me in my pronoun use, too: unless discussing a female dog, I usually call the dog “him,” as this is our gender-neutral term. The reputedly more neutral “it” is not an option, for anyone who has known a dog.

1Of course, researchers soon found brains bigger than ours: the dolphin’s brain is larger, as are the brains of physically larger creatures such as whales and elephants. The “big brain” myth has long been overturned. Those who are still interested in mapping brain to smarts now look at other, more sophisticated measures: the amount of convolution of the brain; the encephalization quotient, a ratio that includes both brain and body size in the calculation; the quantity of neocortex; or the gross number of neurons and synapses between neurons.

Revue de presse

'The heart of Horowitz's work is an empathetic quest to experience the world from a dog's perspective…Inside of a Dog will fascinate anyone who wants to know more about the internal workings of a dog's mind' Guardian
'Causes one's dog-loving heart to flutter with astonishment and gratitude'
New York Times
'A thoughtful take on the interior life of the dog . . . long on insight and short on jargon'
Washington Post

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2.0 étoiles sur 5 A lot of gabble with a few misunderstandings 9 août 2011
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
No need to come from some university to write that kind of book. The author should have red R.Sheldrake studies and yes ,my dog was waiting behind the door long before my arrival ( my wife as witness) and no , I was not coming back at the same hour eveyday and about the experiment of the owner of a dog in a life threatening siuation (p.239), dogs are very sensitive to the human feelings and the fear felt by his owner and the absence of it as he fakes it can be easily detected by a dog, it is not surprising the poodle settled for a nap,clever chap !
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Amazon.com: 3.7 étoiles sur 5  533 commentaires
600 internautes sur 639 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 It's good, but not fantastic. Not many spoilers in this review. 17 septembre 2009
Par M. Carterette - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
After having read this book weeks ago (advanced copy), I was left a little unsatisfied. I'd give it 3.5 stars if could.

It's more of a cursory glance at canine cognitive ethology rather than a definitive volume, but if you're looking for a good introductory to canine cognitive ethology, this would be a great starter. The anecdotes are sweet and the science is pretty good, and written in a way that the regular Joe Dog Guardian can read it without breaking his brain.

HOWEVER. There is one VERY glaring "scientific" experiment that I feel she used for a bad conclusion, a conclusion whose inclusion of the flawed scientific experiment betrays the entire premise of the book itself.

In the section on "Hero Dogs" (dogs that have responded to emergencies and saved the lives of their owners and people in general), Horowitz details what she calls a "clever experiment" with dogs where

"owners conspired with the researchers to feign emergencies in the presence of their dogs, in order to see how the dogs responded. In one scenario, owners were trained to fake a heart attack, complete with gasping, a clutch of the chest, and a dramatic collapse. In the second scenario, owners yelped as a bookcase (made of particleboard) descended on them and seemed to pin them on the ground. In both cases, owners' dogs were present, and the dogs had been introduced to a bystander nearby--perhaps a good person to inform if there has been an emergency.

In these contrived setups, the dogs acted with interest and devotion, but not as though there was an emergency...

...In other words, not a single dog did anything that remotely helped their owners out of the predicaments. The conclusion that one has to take from this is that dogs simply do not naturally recognize or react to an emergency situation--one that could lead to danger or death." (pp.239-240)

I really don't understand how she could have come to this conclusion after having written over 200 pages on how a dog sees, smells and relates to its world (the "umwelt" of a dog). She didn't consider that the dogs knew that their owners were faking? She wrote herself that a dog can sense the most minute changes in a person's own body chemistry, right down to sensing cancer and other things like an increase in heart rate or adrenaline. A person faking a heart attack isn't going to have the same body chemistry/physical changes that a person having a REAL heart attack is going to have, so in a sense--there is no faking a heart attack around your dog (believe me, I've tried, LOL--it was only playing/testing, but none of my dogs seemed to care if I plopped over in bed, "dead"). Same goes for adrenaline levels when you're in immediate danger, like when you're drowning (and I believe this was one of the examples she used just before this horrible "deduction" of hers; a dog saved the life of a child that was going to drown). And if a person was faking being hurt under a particleboard bookcase, I'm pretty sure that the dog could sense that, too.

Anyway. That was the only part of the book that REALLY got me going "Hmmmnnn...no." Other than that, it's a good read, but left me wanting more (a whole lot of it sucks you in, but then you're left with a little bit of an unsatisfied thirst for more science and more talk about how dogs are in the world; the end chapter seemed a little rushed to me, too).
193 internautes sur 205 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 It's a Dog's World 13 octobre 2009
Par Rob Hardy - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Scientifically, we might know a lot more about rats than we do about dogs. There are some experimental labs that have dogs as subjects, but lab rats get a lot of scientific attention. Dogs get a lot of domestic attention, but scientific study of dogs, and the ways they get along with humans and with other dogs, has not been a high concern. That may be because we think we know dogs; they are frank and open, and we live closely with them. Alexandra Horowitz thinks we don't know enough, and some of what we know is wrong, and she is out to change our perception of dogs and to do it scientifically. She has to work at making herself a detached observer; she might be a psychologist who has studied cognition in humans, dogs, bonobos, and rhinoceroses, but among the first sentences of her book _Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know_ (Scribner) is, "I am a dog person." Is she ever. She didn't deliberately make Pumpernickel, her mixed breed live-in friend (she is an advocate for adopting mutts), a subject of scientific study, but Pump was her entrance, for instance, to the dog park where she could film the interactions of other dogs for acute detailed study later. She gives loving anecdotes of the late Pump in every chapter to illustrate her more objective findings, nicely showing how her scientific examination of dogs paid off in her understanding of her own dog. There are people who worry that scientific examination of any phenomenon takes away the mystery and specialness of the phenomenon, and among the fine lessons in this amusing and enlightening book is that this is far from true.

Dogs do not sense the world we do. To take one of Horowitz's examples, a rose for humans is a thing of visual and olfactory beauty, and also has connotations of a love gift. Dogs are having none of this. It is just another plant among all the plants that surround it; it does not look attractive, and unless some dog has urinated on it recently, it does not smell attractive. Otherwise, the rose doesn't exist. The dog's world is one largely of smells. Everyone knows that dogs are better at detecting odors than we are. It isn't just that they can smell more scents, at thinner concentrations, than we; it's that they gaze at the world by sniffing, and it presents a very different world from ours. Smell, for dogs, has plenty of meanings, but one of them is time. A strong spell is new, a fading one is old. Not only that, but the future may be borne on a breeze if the dog is walking upwind. In scents, the dog doesn't just experience the current scene in an olfactory way, "...but also a snatch of the just-happened and the up-ahead. The present has a shadow of the past and a ring of the future about it." Dogs are evolutionarily descended from wolves, and sometimes dog owners are advised to treat their dogs as lower-caste members of a pack. Horowitz prescribes caution in such interpretations. Dogs are not wolves and have cast away many wolf traits during their evolution. A person (non-wolf) attempting to subdue a dog (non-wolf) in wolf fashion is missing what is special about the human-dog bond. Dogs, for instance, like eye contact; wolves avoid it. There are many experiments described here (some of which Horowitz has herself been in charge of), and one of them involves "gaze following". Dogs can look at our eyes, and can tell where we are looking, so they look over that way, too. The sections of the book that are the most fun are the ones on play. Dogs play more than wolves do, and unlike most animals, they play as adults. It is a bit of a mystery; it isn't essential for dogs to play to get their needed social skills, and it does cost energy and the risk of injury. Horowitz describes the play cues dogs give that can only be seen by humans using very slow video replays, but which keep the play non-aggressive for the participating dogs. Dogs are good at following these rules; a strapping wolfhound and a tiny Chihuahua can negotiate a play session efficiently, with the former handicapping itself to enjoy the mock aggressiveness of the latter.

Horowitz has provided a useful service in her brightly-written summary of experiments and current theories on the minds of dogs. I have an idea that people keep dogs around not just because of their goofy affection for us, or because they are so entertaining, but simply because they are interesting. It is fun to see how a creature who has evolved an intelligence different from our own gets along in the world. Horowitz's book helps explain that interest, and heighten it.
515 internautes sur 585 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Could not finish it 20 septembre 2009
Par hydrophilic - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
I expected to love this book. Unfortunately, it leaves a lot to be desired.

First, there is surprisingly little information in it. The author touches on each subject so briefly that only the most superficial observations can be made. Dog body language gets maybe two pages and includes such revelations as the meaning of a tucked tailed (discomfort and/or submission). Is there a dog owner in the world who doesn't already know that? Note: if that's new to you and you own a dog, stop reading this review and find a dog trainer immediately. In the 250 pages I managed to read, I found two things of interest: the description of canine vision, and speculation on a potential flaw in experiments on dog intelligence (to wit: dogs know that humans are great providers of food, so if a dog that gives up on the puzzle in front of him and runs over to the researcher for help, maybe he's being smart, not dumb).

Second, the author spends way too much time bemoaning human chauvinism. Apparently, all research into animal behavior is done to shore up our belief that humans are the rightful masters of the earth.

Third, the tone of this book is insistently, forcibly whimsical. Sometimes it hits the right note, and I did find myself laughing out lot a few times, particularly at an anecdote about a doberman put to work guarding a collection of valuable teddy bears. Unfortunately, it's more often grating, and I found myself rolling my eyes at the little vignettes about the author's dog that start every chapter. It truly pains me to write that, as love between a dog and an owner is such a wonderful thing.

Fourth, the text has some odd contradictions, one which is noted by the reviewer below me. The author also starts one chapter raving about dogs' almost preternatural ability to understand our intentions -- and supports this assertion by noting how easy it is to fool a dog into thinking you've thrown a tennis ball.

Finally, I came to the point where I had to put the book down. The author begins to describe dogs' sense of personal space, which she gets almost entirely wrong. She makes a common mistake in saying that dogs have a much smaller radius of personal space than we do. This may be true of ultra-friendly, well-socialized dogs like many retrievers, but it is *not* the norm. Dogs are in fact extremely concerned with personal space, and much of what we know about their communication involves conveying the boundaries of their "bubbles".

The final straw was here: "Repeating itself on sidewalks across the country is a scene that demonstrates the clash of our sense of personal space: the sight of two dog owners as they stand six feet apart, straining to keep their leashed dogs from touching, while the dogs strain mightily to touch each other. Let them touch!" This is horribly bad advice. There are a thousand reasons why two strange dogs should not be allowed to greet each other unrestrainedly, first and foremost that lunging towards another dog is actually very aggressive behavior. Dogs have a plethora of signals indicating that their interest is respectful, including look aways, medium-to-low tail carriage, and a sideways approach. A dog that jumps straight up into another dog's business is socially inept at best, and intending harm at worst.

Instead of this book, I would recommend almost anything by Temple Grandin (who isn't always right either, but has a fascinating perspective), Turid Rugaas, Karen Pryor, or Brenda Aloff.
50 internautes sur 56 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Some nice stories 6 novembre 2009
Par dog res q r - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Sadly, this is one of many, many books that are filled with assertions, not facts. We now have an enormous amount of information about dogs thanks to scientists who decided that the reason for not studying dogs because they weren't in their "natural habitat" is incorrect. Living with humans IS a dog's natural habitat. They are, in fact, our first domesticated animal. Trustworthy books on the dog include those by Vilmos Csanyi, If Dogs Could Talk, or Lindsay, the three volume treatise, the Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training.

But even better is to do your own work understanding your dog. Buy the Brenda Aloff book, Canine Body Language or the Abrantes book, Encyclopedia of Canine Behavior. Then watch your dog, study your dog, see what he does when presented with various stimuli.

As to horrible mistakes based on, perhaps, just her dog (the fallacy of reasoning from the particular to the general) is Horowitz's comment on meeting another dog. She's right AND she's wrong. When two dogs meet, they SHOULD be allowed to do the "sniff test," etc. on a loose lead. Why? Dogs that are restrained may respond negatively out of what some believe is the "frustration" of not being able to make a dog-like "meet and greet." This is very similar to fence behavior between two dogs which presents the same difficulties for the dog. Two dogs on opposite sides of the fence often start barking and snapping. When allowed to meet without the fence in between, there is a far more subdued "conference." As a member of a rescue group, I have witnessed this over and over and have stopped using the "time-tested" recommended "first have them meet on opposite sides of a fence" approach to introducing one dog to another (A far better approach is to find a partner and walk the two dogs together for a mile or so.)

So her recommendation is, on the surface, a good one, loose lead meeting, good. Unfortunately, two completely clueless dog owners (remember, I'm in rescue) can't possibly tell if their dog or the other one is "targeting" the other dog or just harmlessly anxious to meet this canine passerby. "Oh, but my dog/other dog is wagging their tail." Ah, wagging. Here's an example where a little studying of the Abrantes book would pay dividends. Wagging comes in lots of varieties. Is the tail going around madly in circles or is it high and stiff and wagging back and forth slowly like a metronome...it makes a difference. Did one of the dogs avert their eyes? How about the approach? Did one dog attempt to approach the other dog from the side or are they both coming towards one another head to head. And of course there are the tailless Dobies and Rotties, so you need to look at other signals, ears, lips, body language. I don't normally allow my dogs to meet other dogs on the street because there is too much risk and very little reward. If you like to walk your dog on busy streets, teach your dog to "heel" or "on by" when meeting another dog. See, for example Koehler or Patricia Burnham.

All in all this book is like most of the mass media junk, sitting on shelves in your favorite book store, either filled with anecdotal information or making statements unsupported by anything other than the uncited "study." There are good books on dogs, but they are far and few between, the McConnell series comes to mind as well as Be the Dog by Duno, The Dog's Mind, by Fogle or the Domestic Dog by Serpell.

But if you have a dog, then you really have the best available information curled up next to you. Just don't draw conclusions based on "human logic" or what's more accurately called anthropomorphisms. What I mean, for example, is the call we often get (by the wife) about a recently adopted dog, that the dog is urinating in front of the husband as soon as he walks in the door. And the husband (it's invariably the husband) is sure that the dog is doing it for spite and no matter how loudly he screams at the dog, the dog continues to pee as soon as he walks in the house. Well I am sure most of you know what's going on here. Dogs don't do anything for spite (their range of emotions are far simpler than ours). The dog is being deferential. It's what dogs do to show submissiveness to a senior, more dominant animal. So we tell the wife to tell the husband to stop screaming at the dog and make believe he actually is happy to see the pup...or feel free to return the dog to us and go out and get a nice stuffed animal

As to this book, unless you're in the book store, sipping a latte while skimming the book (and looked up the reviews via wi-fi...or you're a relative...pass...
35 internautes sur 39 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 Lots of words, little content. 13 septembre 2011
Par Cross of lron - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
As much as I love the subject matter, I had a hard time ploughing through this book. I could read no more than a couple of pages at a time before this author irritated me or lost my interest. I hoped for a scientist's matter-of-fact views of canine personality, psychology, behavior and so on. But the author delivers a pseudo intellectual monologue which meanders through ideas ranging from Ludwig Wittgenstein to Gary Larson, tangled around anecdotes about her own dog, written in stilted prose. Like this particular passage on page 223, which summed up the book for me: "The overflowing garbage, collector of the day's past, is more than a little evocative when considering the memory of a dog." I gained no new insight on dogs, so to my overflowing garbage, I've added this book.
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