Review: The Secret Lives of Dogs

The Secret Lives of Dogs, by Jana Murphy.

Like Why We Love the Dogs We Do, this is another old book that I found in my parents’ attic on a recent visit home. The Secret Lives of Dogs was given to me by my aunt and uncle for my 12th birthday, when my dog obsession officially started and about a year before we welcomed Emma into the home.

I casually read through it recently and determined that yes, it was probably an appropriate gift for a 12-year-old. But not for anyone who seriously wants to gather information about canine behavior. I picked up some useful scientific facts, but overall, this book wasn’t incredibly helpful to me.

The Secret Lives of Dogs does explain some behaviors that I hadn’t considered before, or had heard rumors about–e.g., why dogs eat grass and why dogs like digging holes–but I didn’t acquire a lot of new knowledge.

Additionally, I think the book overly anthropomorphizes dogs and assigns them motives and emotions that probably aren’t canine. The book also gives some questionable advice about how to mitigate bad behaviors. For these reasons, I don’t think I’d recommend this book to anyone. Even though I think my 12-year-old self found some reason to enjoy it.

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