Growing up around dogs, you sometimes get used to their peculiar ways. The playful nips and twitching nose are just a few of things I have grown used to as a dog owner. It didn’t matter the size or breed of my dog but I had a partner in crime for all my antics (even though she was four feet and was furry). My dogs were my best friends and greatest companions due to their loving and affectionate nature. They comforted me when I was upset and made me laugh until I cried. They rarely left my side for a moment. I could move back and forth through my apartment for an hour and I could hear the soft tapping of Belle’s nails on my flooring behind me. However, there are still some things I can’t explain that Belle or any of my dogs did. Why can’t find food in front of her face without using her nose? Why my stinky socks from working out are a naughty indulgences? How can she tell when I am upset and comfort me when I desperately need it?
I picked up Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know at my local library while hunting down training books. Intrigued by the cover and the concept of the book, I brought it home and devoured it page by page. Alexandra Horowitz starts each section sharing a snippet of her life with her dog while introducing the concept of each section. She works her way through the history and evolution of dogs along side their counterparts, the wolf. She even talks about the human impact involved in developing dogs as we know them. She then moves through the senses of dogs and how they work because let’s admit it we all use our senses to help identify the world around us. She even analyzes the social construct around dogs because they are pack creatures and form unique bonds with humans. I also love her personal doodles of her dog inside the book that break up such a heavy content book.
I took the concepts from Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know and started applying them into my interactions with my dog, Belle. I started moving food and treats further out from her face so she could see them since dogs have trouble seeing directly in front of them and up close. I make sure Belle’s grooming product are not strongly perfumed since her nose is very sensitive. I play more hide and seek games to challenge that sensitive nose. I bring her to more dog socials so she can fulfill her pack drive needs. I even find myself appreciating the quiet moments on our daily walks where I take a break on a bench while Belle smells all around us. With these improvements in our daily life, Belle sleeps harder and is more well behaved. Her doggy smile is plastered to her face with her tongue lulling down the side. I understand Belle on a completely different level and find myself able to train Belle more fluidly by using my understanding from Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know. Imagine if you could understand your dog’s behavior and actions as well as you understand your own behavior and actions. What could you do with that knowledge?