The World of Animals

The study of animal behavior is a cornerstone of experimental psychology, shedding light not just on why animals behave the way they do, but on the complex emotions they elicit in humans. Pets in particular have a unique therapeutic effect on humans, especially those who are socially isolated or who are coping with a diagnosis on the autism spectrum.

Recent posts on Animal Behavior

Skill May Be More Important Than Size and Strength in Fights

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on October 20, 2017 in Animal Emotions
New research suggests an individual's talent is critical to consider when they brawl. It might actually be that size and raw strength don't matter as much as an animal's skill.

Dogs Are More Expressive When We're Looking at Them

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on October 20, 2017 in Animal Emotions
A new study shows dogs display more, but not different, facial expressions when we pay attention to them. The presence of food didn't have any effect, so they're not just using us.

Does a Good Relationship With the Dog Mean More Walks?

By Zazie Todd Ph.D. on October 18, 2017 in Fellow Creatures
New research finds that taking your dog on a walk is better for your health—and the human-animal bond plays a role in dog walking behavior.

Why Do Dogs Have Cold, Wet Noses?

A dog's wet nose can improve his scenting ability but it also does more than that.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie: EEGs Show They Learn When Z'ing

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on October 16, 2017 in Animal Emotions
Non-invasive research looking at surface EEGs and sleep spindles shows dogs learn when they're sleeping. There were no age differences, but females do it better than males.

Why Do People Think Animals Make Good Therapists?

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on October 16, 2017 in Animals and Us
Public interest in animal assisted therapy has grown by leaps and bounds. Yale University researchers examine the reason for its appeal.

Does Everybody Really Hate Possums? The Bandwagon Effect

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on October 15, 2017 in Animal Emotions
New Zealand’s Threatened Species Ambassador claims "everybody hates possums." However, they don't. Making sweeping claims like this can generate hate even where it didn't exist.

Consciousness: How a Squishy Brain Connects to Make You, You

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on October 15, 2017 in Animal Emotions
How do 90 billion neurons interconnect to produce a wide variety of experiences? Your Conscious Mind, a new book for a general audience, covers what we know about consciousness.

Collective Intelligence in the Holocene: 7

By Michael Hogan Ph.D. on October 13, 2017 in In One Lifespan
Notwithstanding the uniqueness of human beings, a focus on the broadest timescale of analysis reminds us that evolution unites Homo sapiens with all other living systems.

Do Dogs Understand "You Can Play 5 Minutes Then We Go Home"?

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on October 12, 2017 in Animal Emotions
I'm often asked if dogs have a sense of time. They likely do, but we have little to no idea of what the passage of time looks like to them although we act as if it's like ours.

Communicating With Your Dog

By Jann Gumbiner Ph.D. on October 12, 2017 in The Teenage Mind
Dogs do not speak in words but they communicate with us through sounds, postures, tail positions, and other non-verbal cues. Our job is to listen.

Bigfoot Parents Have Small Brains

By Robert D. Martin Ph.D. on October 12, 2017 in How We Do It
Birds and mammals mostly show intensive parenting, linked to their “warm-blooded” nature and quite large brains. Incubator birds show no care of their chicks and have tiny brains.

Does Raising a Dog's Excitement Level Improve Performance?

Attempting to generate higher levels of motivation and excitement may be detrimental to the performance of some dogs based upon their personality or temperament.

Dominance, Individual Personality, and Leadership in Dogs

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on October 10, 2017 in Animal Emotions
Research on dogs shows group decisions are strongly influenced by the dominance rank and unique personality of leader individuals and the underlying hierarchical social network.

Neither Free Will Nor Determinism

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on October 10, 2017 in Ambigamy
We haven't resolved the free-will debate because we don't know what will is. Here's an explanation from will's origins in chemistry with intuitive implications for your own life.

Kids and Animals: Hunting, Zoos, Climate Change, and Hope

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on October 07, 2017 in Animal Emotions
Youngsters have rather sophisticated views on human-animal interactions in a wide variety of venues. We must teach them well so they can keep their and our hopes and dreams alive.

The Philosophical Traveler

By Jean Kazez on October 07, 2017 in The Philosophical Parent
Is it odd to first admire, then devour?

Aggression in Dogs: The Roles of Oxytocin and Vasopressin

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on October 05, 2017 in Animal Emotions
New research shows oxytocin and vasopressin shape affiliation and aggression in dogs. While cause and effect haven't been teased out, controlling aggression is a win-win for all.

Anxiety Springs Eternal

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on October 05, 2017 in The Human Beast
Anxiety is the unsolvable problem that gives rise to many others, from addiction and suicide to depression, obesity, and economic failure.

World Animal Day: A Global Celebration For Hopeful Futures

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on October 03, 2017 in Animal Emotions
While there's been some progress in terms of how nonhumans are treated, millions upon millions of other animals still endure great suffering and die in the name of humans.

Why Is a Dog Combative and Aggressive toward Other Dogs?

Recent research shows that the balance between two common hormones may account for aggressive behaviors in some dogs.

Abnormal Behaviors Aren't Always Psychological

Recent research stresses the need to check for a medical component to what you might think is just a behavior problem.

The Dogs of Avalon and the Unsinkable Marion Fitzgibbon

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on October 02, 2017 in Animal Emotions
A new book by Laura Schenone titled "The Dogs of Avalon: The Race to Save Animals in Peril" details how one woman made a huge difference for rescued greyhounds and other animals.

Why Smell Makes Us Choose Bad Boys (Sometimes)

By Donna Barstow on September 30, 2017 in Ink Blots Cartoons
Need some pointers? Dogs can help. But find out about the hidden organ humans have ourselves to help us select the right partner!

‘Why is Everyone All Up in My Business?’

By Seth Slater M.F.A. on September 30, 2017 in The Dolphin Divide
Learning to cope when social interaction proves a distraction. If we are hard-wired to be social, why do we sometimes find the attentions of others so frustrating?

It's OK For Dogs to Engage in Zoomies and Enjoy FRAPs

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on September 26, 2017 in Animal Emotions
Allowing dogs to enjoy zoomies (Frenetic Random Activity Periods, FRAPs) is fine as long as they don't harm themselves or others. Few FRAPs cause injuries and they're lots of fun.

Can Vaccinations Cause Autism in Dogs?

By Stanley Coren PhD., DSc, FRSC on September 26, 2017 in Canine Corner
People who choose not to vaccinate their dogs for rabies don't recognize the risk that they are exposing their pets to.

Fishes Show Individual Personalities in Response to Stress

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on September 25, 2017 in Animal Emotions
Trinidadian guppies display individual coping strategies in response to stress that are consistent over time and in various contexts. Some hide, some escape, while some explore.

Choose a Dog Trainer as Carefully as You Would a Surgeon

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on September 21, 2017 in Animal Emotions
Using a certified dog trainer is a must for your dog and you.

Dogs Who Live with Smokers May Suffer from Premature Aging

By Stanley Coren PhD., DSc, FRSC on September 19, 2017 in Canine Corner
Biomarkers show that living in a home with a tobacco smoker prematurely ages dogs at a cellular level