The Hidden Life of Dogs

  • by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
  • Narrated by Swoosie Kurtz
  • 3 hrs and 0 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

How do dogs think? Do they fantasize? Do they dream? What do their barks, whines, and growls tell other dogs? How do they communicate in groups, and why do they form hierarchies? What do dogs want? Anthropologist Elizabeth Marshall Thomas attempts to answer these and other questions about a species that has been with mankind for over 20,000 years and still remains a mystery. Based on 30 years and hundreds of thousands of hours of research, this volume describes behavior every dog owner has seen thousands of times but will now understand for only the first time.

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What the Critics Say

"The best book about dogs I have read since Konrad Lorenz published Man Meets Dog four decades ago." (George Schaller)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Disappointing and dangerously incorrect

Like several other readers, I was disappointed and concerned about the incorrect information about dogs conveyed in this book. Although the author contends that she made a careful and thorough study of dogs by doing 100000 hours of observation of her own pack of dogs, the book is primarily the author's own anthropomorphizing of her dog's behavior, with her making dramatic interpretations of what the dogs "must" be feeling. At best, it is treacle. At worst, it is dangerous. In several places she reports behavior by the dogs, only to add an interpretation which is astounding. She misinterprets dominance behavior as simply "greeting", assumes her dogs are getting along with another dog only to have to later rescue the third dog from being killed by her dogs, and so on. The danger in this book is that readers will believe her interpretations to the detriment of their relationship with their own dog, or, more concerning, believe her interpretations of dog behavior are real, not merely her opinions, and therefore fail to protect or properly control their own dogs, and suffer the consequences. Examples would include her failure to recognize the signs of and proactively deal with the above mentioned aggression by her dogs towards another dog, a heartwrenching story she blithely tells about having 2 dogs with litters at the same time and having one mother dog kill the puppies of the other (which she interprets as merely the way of the wild accepted by both mother dogs); and so on. Readers looking for information on how to work with and relate to their dogs should, in my opinion, look elsewhere. Or at least read several other books, make your own assessments and take this book for what it really is -- the author's own thoughts about what her dog's behavior means and nothing more.
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- Monica E. McFadden

Bad from the beginning

As a dog trainer I was really excited about this book. I thought it would carry some insight into multiple dog households with maybe a bit of science behind it. What I found was nothing of the sort. The author clearly does not understand dog behavior in the least and caused most of the heartbreak she writes of herself. The book is well written, but the story she tells is just too heartbreaking for me (especially when most of her troubles could have easily been avoided).
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- dndlyon

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-16-1999
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio