A Dog's Life

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
A Dog's Life Movie Poster Image
Solid but sometimes-dry docu explores unique human-dog bond.
  • NR
  • 2013
  • 44 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Recent research shows that dogs are even more attuned to human behavior and signals than was previously believed.
 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Researchers are dedicated to understanding the way dogs see the world and how they understand and interact with humans.
 

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff

Dogs are seen briefly mounting each other in a dog park, demonstrating play behavior.

Language

"Poop."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there are a number of films called A Dog's Life, and this one is the 2013 Canadian television documentary. The focus is on dogs performing a variety of fascinating research experiments to determine how dogs' senses differentiate them from humans and also how they understand and interact with humans. In two brief instances, mounting behavior is displayed as dogs are seen playing in a dog park. Expect to hear the word "poop."

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What's the story?

International researchers exploring how dogs think and react in the world are making some surprising discoveries in A DOG'S LIFE. Previous observations led experts to believe that dogs and wolves are organized into packs with a social hierarchy and a dominant "alpha male." More recent findings question this supposition and the widespread training advice that the belief has spawned. The experiments show that dogs are equipped through thousands of years of breeding to figure out human-dog social interaction riddles but less to understand riddles posed by the physical world, like walking around the correct side of a tree when attached to a human by leash. Dogs are good at imitating humans but not good at finding things in a maze, demonstrating how different dogs are from rats and pigeons. Some researchers also believe that, surprisingly, most dogs would rather hang out with their humans than with other dogs.   

Is it any good?

This documentary is a solid survey of some of the recent canine research conducted internationally. Dog lovers will find all the dog footage adorable but A Dog's Life may be a bit too dry for small children. Given the humor inherent in so many human-dog relationships, this documentary almost seems to go out of its way to leave the humor out.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about watching your own family dog for behaviors exhibited by dogs in A Dog's Life. Does your dog look at you when he/she wants something?

  • Dogs evolved from wolves. Why do you think it was beneficial to wolves to become more domesticated in the process of developing their unique interspecies relationship with humans thousands of years ago?

  • If you have a dog, what is your favorite thing about your dog? If you don't, what do you think would be the coolest thing about having a dog?

Movie details

For kids who love animals

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