What goes inside your dog’s mind?

Have you ever thought what your dog thinks? Well, Alexandra Horowitz, Term Assistant Professor, Psychology from Barnard College, Columbia University has come up with an interesting book on the subject. Dogs & Pups interacted with her on how she came up with this wonderful idea. Excerpts.

D&P: Please tell us something about your book Inside Of A Dog.
Alexandra: This book is an attempt to use scientific results about dogs’ perceptual and cognitive capacities to imagine what the world looks like from a dog’s point of view: the dog’s perspective.
D&P: How did you conceive the idea of writing this book?
Alexandra: I study dog behaviour scientifically, and am also a dog owner. I found that the results of research scientists were performing were not being translated to the population of dog owners, and I thought it was high time that someone must do so. I was also interested in using some results of research in a creative way to answer the kinds of questions dog owners have about their pups – questions not explicitly asked by science, such as “Do dogs get bored?” “What does my dog know about me?” and so on.
D&P: What has been the response of the book so far?
Alexandra: The response has been very good, which is delightful. People here in the States seem very much interested in trying to understand what dogs know and understand – how they see the world.
D&P: What is the main aim of the book?
Alexandra: That is the aim: to begin to draw a picture of how the dog sees the world. By doing so, I think dog owners can start to forge a new relationship with their dogs: instead of anthropomorphizing (attributing human-like characteristics to their dogs), we can appreciate what dogs are really capable of. This, in turn, can lead to being less focussed on whether a dog is “misbehaving” and more interested in how to make the dog’s life a rich one.
D&P: Being a canine psychologist, please share a few things which every dog owner should keep in mind to keep their pooch happy?
Alexandra: Dogs are very responsive and attentive to human movement and behaviour. If we spent half as much time studying them as they do studying us, we would learn a lot.
D&P: How can a dog owner know his pooch needs attention?
Alexandra: Simply because dogs can sleep a lot doesn’t mean they don’t need attention or company. Dogs are social animals, and need lots of social time. Dogs have a lot of ways to tell you when they need attention: from barking, to walking restlessly near you, to putting their head on your lap, etc. Watch your dog, and see how he tries to get your attention – and reinforce the attention-getters you like.
D&P: How can we avoid behavioural problems in our pooches?
Alexandra: Spend a lot of time with your dog; form a good relationship early on, where the dog knows that you will be there for him; give him lots of exercise and care; allow him to interact with other dogs from early in his life.