Think Like a Dog

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Think Like a Dog Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Scientist boy and dog have an adventure; potty humor, peril.
  • PG
  • 2020
  • 85 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Scientific information is part of the conversation, but not delivered in a way that introduces or explains concepts.

Positive Messages

Basic premise is that when people "think like a dog" -- appreciating family, love, simple pleasures -- they'll be more satisfied with their lives. Promotes engagement with life (putting away phones, etc.), scientific investigation, speaking from the heart, open communication within a family.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Budding scientist Oliver is hardworking, resourceful, loyal, brave. Parents are dependable and loving; they learn important lessons about communicating with one another, forgiveness, remembering what's important in life. Villain is stereotypical greedy tech industry powerhouse. Some ethnic diversity.

Violence & Scariness

A punch. A bully makes fun of and threatens young hero. A boy and his dog are abducted by villains, held captive. Technological bursts of electrical charges: lamps blow out, characters react to electrical disturbances.

Sexy Stuff

Tweens innocently kiss.


Potty humor and language ("keister," "booty," "gotta pee"), lots of dog poop and farts, as well as a sprinkling of mild swearing ("crap," "fartface," "grow a pair"). 


Mr. Coffee.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Think Like a Dog is a live-action comedy about Oliver (Gabriel Bateman), an enterprising boy who loves science, and his happy "talking" dog. When an experiment misfires, both boy and dog are amazed to discover that they can read each other's thoughts. The heroic team is soon drawn into a conflict that pits them against a villainous cyberworld bigshot and two government agents. Mild action sequences include the science experiment gone wrong (electrical charges and hurtling about), a chase, an abduction, and a punch in the face. Oliver also gets harassed and embarrassed by the school bully. Potty humor ("drop a payload," "I can pee anywhere I want," "smelly butts") and dog farts are frequent, mostly with colorful narration from the animal himself. Mild swearing includes "crap," "fartface," and "grow a pair."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byV_love February 13, 2021

Lots of bold sexual innuendos!

I struggle really hard trying to find good movies for my children. But no matter how awesome a movie is they always feel the need to throw at least one thing in... Continue reading
Adult Written byBrad Hansen October 11, 2020

Age 7+ but mostly boring to that age

Subplot on divorce wasnt too heavy, but it was a little much for some kids. Didnt really keep my three boys' interest throughout. The 10 year old enjoyed i... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old June 29, 2020


is nice I like that there is dogs in it I LOVER DOGS.
Kid, 10 years old June 24, 2020

Must watch movie

The movie is the best! I watched it from Redbox. It’s my new favorite movie. There isn’t much violence & it’s a great movie for people who love dogs!

What's the story?

In THINK LIKE A DOG, Oliver (Gabriel Bateman) is a very bright kid obsessed with two things: scientific experimentation and his exuberant dog, Henry (voiced by Todd Stashwick). Loved by his supportive parents, Lucas (Josh Duhamel) and Ellen (Megan Fox), Oliver is basically a happy but slightly insecure kid. However, when a mind-reading project he's created for his school's science fair flops, courtesy of a jealous bully, Oliver is miserable -- especially because he failed in front of Sophie (Madison Horcher), the girl he really, really likes. But Oliver doesn't give up. On a second effort, one he makes with input from his enthusiastic Chinese pen pal (Minghao Hou), Oliver's experiment goes haywire again, but this time the results are astounding: Oliver can read Henry's mind! Hearing about Oliver's amazing feat, the world's most famous cybertycoon (Kunal Nayyar) approaches Oliver and Henry, and an unexpected adventure begins. 

Is it any good?

With strong performances, an earnest, beguiling young hero, and solid production values, this film is a cut above the usual low-budget, talking dog efforts. What's more, the filmmakers have opted not to hire the standard "celebrity comic" to phone in a lackluster canine performance. Instead, Todd Stashwick as Henry is delightfully sassy at times and always engaging. The addition of two parents on the brink of a separation adds a bit of emotional heft to Oliver's otherwise zany journey. For the right age viewer, Think Like a Dog is likely to have lots of appeal. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why kids enjoy potty jokes. What makes this humor so funny? Is it embarrassment? Do you imagine how you'd feel in similar circumstances? When are certain kinds of jokes appropriate -- and when aren't they? How does your family feel about potty humor?

  • How does Henry the dog explain the title phrase of Think Like a Dog?  What is his "secret" to being happy? Why does Henry believe that "simpler is better"? Do you agree with him? Why or why not?

  • Find out the meaning of the word "anthropomorphism." In what ways is this movie an example of anthropomorphism? Create a written portrait of a human-like pet that you might like to have as a best friend.

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animals

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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