Being a Dog

Following the Dog Into a World of Smell

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About The Book

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 ways.

To a dog, there is no such thing as “fresh air.” Every breath of air is loaded with information. In fact, what every dog—the tracking dog, of course, but also the dog lying next to you, snoring, on the couch—knows about the world comes mostly through his nose.

In Being a Dog, Alexandra Horowitz, a research scientist in the field of dog cognition and the author of the runaway bestseller Inside of a Dog, unpacks the mystery of a dog’s worldview as has never been done before.

With her family dogs, Finnegan and Upton, leading the way, Horowitz sets off on a quest to make sense of scents, combining a personal journey of smelling with a tour through the cutting edge and improbable science behind the olfactory powers of the dog. From revealing the spectacular biology of the dog snout, to speaking to other cognitive researchers and smell experts across the country, to visiting detection-dog training centers and even attempting to smell-train her own nose, Horowitz covers the topic of noses—both canine and human—from surprising, novel, and always fascinating angles.

As we come to understand how complex the world around us appears to the canine nose, Horowitz changes our perspective on dogs forever. Readers will finish this book feeling that they have smelled into a fourth dimension—breaking free of human constraints and understanding smell as never before; that they have, however fleetingly, been a dog.

About The Author

© Vegar Abelsnes

Alexandra Horowitz is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know and On Looking: A Walker’s Guide to the Art of Observation. She teaches at Barnard College, where she runs the Dog Cognition Lab. She lives with her family and two large, highly sniffy dogs in New York City.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Scribner (October 2016)
  • Length: 336 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781476795997

Raves and Reviews

“I'm not entirely certain whether Alexandra Horowitz's Being a Dog  has made me want to buy a dog or morph into one—but I do know that it was magical. Horowitz has crafted an utterly engrossing, witty, finely-observed narrative that will make you look at the power of the nose in a wholly new way.”
—Maria Konnikova, author of The Confidence Game and Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes

"An incredible journey into the olfactory world of man's best friend."
O Magazine

"Like a Mary Roach but with a solid scientific background to her credit, Horowitz is a skilled investigative reporter who takes readers into unfamiliar worlds, shares her experiences there, asks probing questions, and makes those worlds come alive. Dog owners curious about the lives of their pets will savor this book, but it deserves a wider audience than just animal lovers."
Kirkus Reviews

"Fascinating...Horowitz combines the expertise of a scientist with an easy, lively writing style."
The New York Times Book Review

“Horowitz…explores the way dogs experience the world in this rich and absorbing examination of noses and scents…Both dog lovers and pop science readers will want to stick their noses in this book, and they may find themselves using their noses, like Horowitz and dogs everywhere, to experience the world more vividly.” 
Publishers Weekly

"I have fresh appreciation for [my dog's] sniffing behavior."
The New York Times

"Becoming more doglike, not surprisingly, can make anyone’s life a little more vivid."
Boston Globe

"A delight for dog lovers and anyone who enjoys the smell of breakfast, crayons, rich earth, fresh-baked cookies, and yes, even dogs. . . . Being a Dog is one great book to sniff out."
Daily Citizen

“Spellbinding...This book will stay with you long after you’ve finished it.”
Forbes, “The 10 Best Popular Science Books of 2016”

Awards and Honors

  • AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books Finalist

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More books from this author: Alexandra Horowitz