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Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home: And Other Unexplained Powers of Animals [Paperback]

Rupert Sheldrake
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 Sep 2000

Many people who have ever owned a pet will swear that their dog or cat or other animal has exhibited some kind of behavior they just can't explain. How does a dog know when its owner is returning home at an unexpected time?

Filled with captivating stories and thought-provoking analysis, Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home is a groundbreaking exploration of animal behavior that will profoundly change the way we think about animals, and ourselves. After five years of extensive research involving thousands of people who own and work with animals, Rupert Sheldrake conclusively proves what many pet owners already know - that there is a strong connection between humans and animals that lies beyond present-day scientific understanding.

This book has only one edition and was first published in 1999 with subsequent reprints.

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Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home: And Other Unexplained Powers of Animals + The Science Delusion + The Presence of the Past: Morphic Resonance and the Habits of Nature
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow; New Ed edition (7 Sep 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099255871
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099255871
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 39,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

It's rare for a book's title to say so clearly what the book is about. In the case of Rupert Sheldrake's latest work, the controversial content is right on the front cover. Pet owners will see it and smile in recognition; sceptical scientists will shake their heads and mutter about "maverick scholars." We all know of cases of dogs (and cats) who know when their owners are coming home, who go to wait at the door or window 10 minutes or more before their human arrives. Conditioned by the tight rigour of contemporary scientific thinking, we either look for rational explanations or we file the phenomenon away in our minds as "unexplained" and are careful not to talk about it to our scientist friends. Sheldrake, famous for his theory of morphic resonance, has shown in the past that he is not afraid to be labelled a maverick. He accepts that the case histories he details so thoroughly in this book are anecdotal, but that makes them no less real; and as a scientist himself he sets up experimental conditions for studying this previously ignored phenomenon, which show beyond any doubt that the phenomenon exists. He castigates traditional scientists for their refusal to countenance anything that doesn't fit in with their existing paradigms (or prejudices) and challenges them to come up with some more "acceptable" explanation--but none is forthcoming.

The "telepathy" between pets and humans, or between flocks of birds or schools of fish that move as a single organism, can be explained by Sheldrake's theory of morphic fields. Sheldrake is less happy about anecdotes that suggest animal clairvoyance--warning of something in the near future--but refuses to disallow the possibility.

This fascinating book is a first attempt at a scientific investigation into a puzzling but quite common occurance. One hopes that other scientists will follow Sheldrake's brave lead. -- David V. Barrett --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Delightful . . . this book will turn our understanding of animals inside out" (Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of When Elephants Weep)

"Wonderful . . . splendid and thought-provoking" (Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Hidden Life of Dogs)

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A few things you should know about this book 18 Jan 2010
By A Customer
This book is a follow up to the animal sections in Sheldrake previous book 'Seven Experiments that Could Change the World'. It focuses on various kinds of animals, but especially pets such as cats and dogs. In the scientific world there is something of a taboo against taking pets seriously, perhaps due to the subjective nature of experiences with them...but as Sheldrake points out, they are also the animals we know best, and are therefore easiest to test.

Book contains some great anecdotes, one of my favourite concerning some bonobos (pygmy chimpanzees):

"One bonobo had a long bamboo cane, which she was poking members of the public with, so we wanted it off her. I had a bag of four cakes which we were going to have for our tea, and I thought I would give her a cake if she gave me the stick. But she saw I had four cakes and she broke the bamboo stick into four pieces, one piece for each cake."

Another fascinating historical anecdote concerns the dogs of Scottish drovers. When they drove their cattle into northern England and stayed to work on the harvest, they sent their dogs back into Scotland. The dogs would make the epic return journey alone, stopping in the same inns their masters stopped at on the way down!

Anecdotes aside, the book examines three kinds of unexplained powers: telepathy, sense of direction, and premonition.


Sheldrake gives many examples from his extensive database of pets who know their owners are returning, even when the rest of the family doesn't know it (and therefore can't provide unconscious cues). In these cases, smell and hearing have been ruled out as factors (see the book for the arguments and proof).

Sceptics counter this by pointing out that pet owners' accounts may be unreliable.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely interesting 4 Jan 2000
By A Customer
Sheldrake has done some simple, very interesting and potentially revolutionary scientific research into widely-reported phenomena such as (as the title indicates) pets' apparent ability to predict reliably the arrival of their owner some minutes in advance.
He designs experiments to rule out all obvious causes such as the pet hearing the owner's car, and even distiguishes the pet *predicting* the owner's arrival from the pet detecting the owner's *intention* to return home. (It turns out that it is the latter which counts, indicating telepathy rather than a more improbable foresight.)
Sheldrake includes accounts of other experiments relating to telepathy, such as the ability to delect when you're being stared at, and some not, such as a very spooky experiment in which a day-old chick appears to be able to influence a random number generator.
Some parts of the book (e.g. about the healing abilities of pets) are somewhat vague and wishy-washy, as is his morphic fields theory (which is little more than a restatement of the problem it seeks to solve), but don't let that put you off buying it.
No doubt the subject matter will be ignored by the scientific establishment for the time being as too off-the-wall, but the results are extremely significant, both statistically and in their implications for biology and physics.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Making science a quality social experience 25 Feb 2008
Sheldrake makes scientific inquiry not just adventurous and rigorous, but also playful and friendly. His experiments are designed to involve many people in testing theory after theory to account for animal behavior. How do pets know when the vet is coming? How do animals anticipate earthquakes? How do they know to give up waiting by the door, when their owners change plans and postpone coming home?

Sheldrake's experiments, surveys and documentation always prove entertaining. With Sheldrake, science becomes a community experience, open to all who are curious and willing to put their minds together.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are CoMing Home 22 July 2011
By SheenaM
I was particularly looking for this book as I am interested in animal communication. I have met Dr Rupert Sheldrake many years ago and know that he is a dedicated animal lover as well as a prominent scientist. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the animal world, bearing in mind also that it is written in a manner that is easy to read and understand. As this book also asks people to forward their own unexplained animal experiences it allows the reader to feel as if they are part of the experiment. Recognising the telepathic abilities of the animals ( particularly pets) has come on in leaps and bounds since Dr Sheldrake first published his book, hopefully he will continue his experiments.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dogs that know when their owners are coming home 27 Jun 2009
An alternative scientific view point which validates the possibility that higher mammals (including humans) possess senses currently not recognized by conventional science.

Sheldrake explains that animals can tap into a collective memory almost like a telephone network through "Morphic fields". If a member of a species in one part of the world learns something new i.e. a task - the evidence suggests that this new wisdom will be shared in a kind of collective consciousness so all other members of the same species around the globe would be able to use this new found knowledge and perform tasks much quicker and easier than they would have done prior to the initial achievement.

Whether you believe the proposed theory or not, this book is at times emotive, well written, well researched and would appeal to anyone who has ever had a close bond with a dog, cat, horse or even a person. It helps explain beyond mechanistic biology how we sometimes feel a telepathic connection with other people or animals and continues to suggest that animals are more in tune with this ability than humans.

A fantastic read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars why we love our dog
My son-in-law said he loved it's a great read. It was a pleasure to see his face once head read it.
Published 4 months ago by Hazel Irwin
4.0 out of 5 stars Dogs That Know When Their Owners are Coming Home
Bought this as a Christmas present for my son in law. It has been much appreciated and I believe by other members of the family. Read more
Published 7 months ago by S. Black
5.0 out of 5 stars Great research.
A fascinating read, but not for those who are easily upset by challenges to ideology. Sheldrake is a first class researcher and scientist.
Published 10 months ago by David Drew
5.0 out of 5 stars rupert sheldrake book
arrived quickly. in good condition. An excellent book that opens the door of possibilities, and engages the mind of the reader from the start.
Published 11 months ago by Mrs. H. Barnes
5.0 out of 5 stars Dr. Rupert Sheldrake reveals some very interesting things about our...
The book explores activities that to my memory have not been explored before by anyone.
And it gives us all food for thought .
Published 11 months ago by Chris Youens
5.0 out of 5 stars Sentience in animals
Dogs that know when their owners are coming home, and other unexplained powers of animals, by Rupert Sheldrake, Arrow, 2000, 320 ff

The title of this book may be rather... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Dr. H. A. Jones
3.0 out of 5 stars Gently Pushing the Boundaries
The book is to a larger degree constructed of testimonies and data that verify the authors theories on Morphic Fields,which is only referred to in passing, and as such it... Read more
Published 18 months ago by nicholas hargreaves
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
Wonderful book full of brilliant observations and extremely informative. Sheldrake's books are always informative and full of information but easy to read.
Published 19 months ago by Sheila Rowbottom
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing animal behaviour
An absolutely amazing book! Some of the content is mind-boggling! This book is a big MUST for anyone interested in animals, and especially cat and dog owners. Well done!!!
Published 19 months ago by fiona mary ellis
1.0 out of 5 stars Pseudoscience wrapped in half baked theory
This book, while giving interesting anecdotes and stories, does not fulfil any truly scientific reasoning. Read more
Published on 13 Feb 2012 by The Researcher
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