Book Reviews of The Hidden Life of Dogs

The Hidden Life of Dogs
The Hidden Life of Dogs
Author: Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
ISBN-13: 9780395669587
ISBN-10: 0395669588
Publication Date: 8/3/1993
Pages: 148
Rating:
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 81

3.4 stars, based on 81 ratings
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

24 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The Hidden Life of Dogs on + 171 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This is not a bok about training or bringing up your dog. "This is a book about dog consciousness." Elizabeth Marshall Thomas talks abot the drama in her dogs life and who interesting their approach to life is. It is a samll book with a big punch! I liked it a lot.
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Helpful Score: 3
Fascinating study, done over a period of 30 years, on the lives of dogs. Thomas is an anthropologist who uses her background to give a superior and touching account of her canine companions and their young through several generations. I would highly suggest this book to anyone who loves dogs! I was sorry to see it end!
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Helpful Score: 3
I didn't find this book that much of a 'breakthrough' in canine behavior---it seemed more of a study of dogs that are roam and interact at will, with very little interaction between them and the humans. In the end the dogs basically form a pack and seem very uninterested in their human family. This doesn't help me relate or understand how to interact with my dogs.

In this book the author gives an account of thirty years of living with dogs, wolves, dingos and the ways their lives are interetwined with her own. There is Misha, a husky that roams widely, and Maria his true love, their puppies, as well as Bingo and Violet the two pugs that also share the house.
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Helpful Score: 2
If Ms. Thomas had been my neighbor, I would have hated her. She let her dogs run loose all the time and then couldn't understand why this upset the people who lived near her. "We meet Misha, a friend's husky, whom Thomas followed on his daily rounds of more than 130 square miles, and who ultimately provided the simple and surprising answer to the question What do dogs want most? Not food, not sex, but other dogs." Yes, and if I had encountered her dog off leash, I would have called animal control. I love animals but my little children do not appreciate big huskies running loose on the sidewalk and neither do I. It's irresponsible and potentially dangerous.

She makes assumptions in this book about the behaviors of all dogs, based on the observations of her pugs and huskies. Some of her observations are interesting, but hardly count as science. My flat-coat retriever has an entirely different set of instincts, behaviors and desires, and I would never assume her personality and day to day activities reveal some amazing truth about canines. This book is an amusing read but I found myself rolling my eyes too much for me to be able to rate it highly or recommend it.
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Helpful Score: 2
I love my dog. But in reading this book, I learned more about the author than dogs. It was interesting. I don't think I would give up my bed so the dog could give birth there--so maybe I don't love my dog as much as she does--However????
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Helpful Score: 2
I'm a cat person, and *I* even liked this book! Anyone who likes animals and senses their hidden intelligence will enjoy this book. It is entertaining as well as heartbreaking. A good read all around.
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Helpful Score: 2
I'm a certified applied animal behaviorist. I read this book when it was first published (it was actually a gift) and was totally appalled by the manner in which this woman lived with her dog pack. Not only is there NO validity in her observations of domestic dog behavior, but this book portrays the absolute worst sort of collector who is negligent of her dogs' social and psychological requirements and does little to care for them physically in an appropriate manner. If you want to learn about domestic dog behavior, read Dr. Ian Dunbar, Dr. Nicholas Dodman, Roger Abrantes, Karen Pryor, Dr. Jon Bailey.
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Helpful Score: 1
So following the lives of the feral dogs living on your property may be interesting...but on the other hand...it's a story of poorly socialized dogs who do not receive enough companionship or attention from the people that "own" them.

Dogs have been changed from the wolves they once were into human companions. Denying them proper training, companionship and socialization in favor of some sort of "pack mind" that they can't fully attain as dogs...it's just cruel and sad. What dogs want most is not other dogs...but a loving home with responsible owners. This book does a disservice to that ideal.
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Helpful Score: 1
Couldn't even get halfway through. It is so counter to everything responsible about being a care giver for a dog.
reviewed The Hidden Life of Dogs on
Helpful Score: 1
A fascinating book; it taught me a lot I didn't know about dogs. One blurb called it, "The best book about dogs I have read since Konrad Lorenz published Man Meets Dog four decades ago," and that is saying a lot!
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Helpful Score: 1
Interesting story about the interaction between a family of dogs that is let to do pretty much what they want. The owner let her dogs out and followed them through the night to see what they would do, which sounds sort of crazy - and might be! - but was really interesting to read about. If you've had dogs that stay out all night and wondered how they get along, this might give you some insight!
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Fascinating information that will have you understanding your dog's behavior a lot better.
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An interesting read for dog owners =)
reviewed The Hidden Life of Dogs on
Entertaining book about how dogs behave, and why.
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interesting book for those of us who like dogs
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One of my favorite dog books, I just have two copies. The author really gets into understanding the life of dogs.
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I thought it was interesting. Not too terribly clinical, but behavior any dog lover will recognize.
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Elizabeth Marshall Thomas brings 30 years of experience working with and observing dogs to this book. Various stories of individual dogs are related to explain how they think, love, and problem-solve. A must read book for the dog lover.
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With such lines as "Only a dog...who wasn't brainwashed by excessive training... would ever....", no wonder people who follow the dog whisperer philosophy whould be upset.
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This author illustrates perfectly what not to do with your dog...HIGHLY irresponsible to allow your dogs to roam at will....

I was not thrilled at all with this book, and I don't really feel that there were any great insights provided by this author's experiments..
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From Library Journal
Novelist/ethologist Thomas may be well known to readers for her novels Reindeer Moon (LJ 1/87) and The Animal Wife ( LJ 7/90). This work, however, takes a much different tack in that it provides a readable account of how, over a a span of years, her family dogs were transformed into a family unit not unlike a wolf pack. Thomas is a firm believer that animals think and express emotion and is not ashamed to be "anthropomorphic" in her particular analysis of dog behavior. Her intention is to find out, by observing her own animals, what it is that dogs "want." The dogs were free to make their own decisions; Thomas fed them, sheltered them, and provided medical care but otherwise didn't train them or direct their activities. The observations she makes are entertaining and amusing to anyone who has owned a dog. Her conclusion is that dogs want each other, and people are merely substitutes for other canines. Although Thomas draws on her knowledge of philosophy and the theory of animal consciousness, this book never bogs down in theory and remains very readable. A title worth considering for libraries where there is client interest.
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An excellent book on "the way dogs think" and react to their surroundings.
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THIS IS A PAPERBACK BOOK. Interesting but odd book. The writes about her observations and analyses of dog behavior. She even follows her dog at night to see what he does when he would leave the yard.
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ANNOTATION
The author of Reindeer Moon displays extraordinary insights into canine behavior without sentimentality or anthropomorphism, telling of the 11 dogs that lived with her over a period of 30 years, slowly but eventually transforming themselves into something much like a wolf pack.