The World of Animals

Pets are among life's greatest joys; they can also be our greatest teachers.  The study of animal behavior is a cornerstone of experimental psychology, shedding light on complex human emotions. Pets also have a unique therapaeutic hold over humans, especially people who are socially isolated or who are coping with a diagnosis on the autism spectrum.

Recent posts on Animal Behavior

Did Dogs Help Hunters Succeed?

By Mark Derr on September 25, 2016 in Dog's Best Friend
Dogs helped early Japanese hunters and foragers negotiate climate change.

The Animal Welfare Act Claims Rats and Mice Are Not Animals

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on September 25, 2016 in Animal Emotions
As the 50th anniversary of the Animal Welfare Act is celebrated let's restore rodents to the animal kingdom. Studies also show bad welfare is bad for animals and bad for science.

Can a Dog Really Suffer From Depression?

By Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C. on September 21, 2016 in Canine Corner
One of the breakthroughs in veterinary medicine has been the recognition that dogs and humans may have similar psychological problems and can be treated the same way.

The Psychology of Killing Wolves, Cats, and other Animals

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on September 16, 2016 in Animal Emotions
There are many unrelenting wars on a wide variety of animals. Often people who go out and kill animals say they actually love them. We need more psychological studies in this area.

Do You Confide in Your Dog More Than With Family Members?

By Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C. on September 14, 2016 in Canine Corner
New data shows that people confide in their dog during times of adversity, but only about certain specific emotions

Bonobo Females Form Tight Alliances and Use French Ticklers

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on September 12, 2016 in Animal Emotions
A new study shows bonobo females form tight cross-generational groups. In addition to practicing all forms of sex and dominating males, bonobo sisterhood is a hot research topic.

Why Do We Wince When We're in Pain?

By Nathan H. Lents, Ph.D. on September 12, 2016 in Beastly Behavior
The recent discovery that all mammals make the same pain-face begs the question, why? One reason could be that wincing is a facial expression intended to communicate danger.
The Kong Company

Food Toys and Dispensers for Dogs and Cats

Do your dogs and cats eat out of bowls? Let's change that! Meal time, play time, and training can be much more rewarding with the right food toys and dispensers.

Cats and Humans: There's No Need For War

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on September 07, 2016 in Animal Emotions
Alley Cat Allies president Becky Robinson discusses why removing all free-ranging cats "by any means necessary," as suggested in "Cat Wars," is neither necessary nor humane.

Just Looking at a Dog Can Make You Smile

By Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C. on September 07, 2016 in Canine Corner
A simple set of data demonstrates that merely seeing a dog can make people feel good.

“Lexical Processing” – by Dogs?

By John Bradshaw Ph.D. on September 05, 2016 in Pets and Their People
Do dogs understand human language, or do they simply react to familiar sounds?

Play, Newness, and You

By Wilma Koutstaal Ph.D. on September 04, 2016 in Our Innovating Minds
What leads us to try new things?

Equine Tourette’s Syndrome

By Nicholas Dodman on September 04, 2016 in Dog Days
Can horses have Tourette's Sydrome? This author belives they can.

Skinner's Fundamental Insight and Fundamental Error

By Gregg Henriques Ph.D. on September 02, 2016 in Theory of Knowledge
Skinner's fundamental insight is the idea that animal behavior evolves via behavioral selection. His fundamental error was his radical behavioral philosophy.

Are Pet Owners Really at Greater Risk of Cancer?

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on September 01, 2016 in Animals and Us
A new study used "big data" to examine the associations between pet-ownership and cancer rates and physical activity in older women. The results are surprising.

Can a Dog's Size Predict Its Intelligence?

New data shows that very large or very small dog breeds rank lower in intelligence.

"Cat Wars" Calls For Killing Free-Ranging Cats

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on August 31, 2016 in Animal Emotions
In a new book called "Cat Wars" the authors conclude, "the most desirable solution seems clear -- remove all free-ranging cats from the landscape by any means necessary."

Conflict Resolution: Dancing Your Way to Cooperation?

By Seth Slater M.F.A. on August 30, 2016 in The Dolphin Divide
How to avoid a clash of wills in the face of stubbornness. Making the right moves when it counts can head off flared tempers and open conflict.

Dogs and Humans Process Sounds Similarly

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on August 30, 2016 in Animal Emotions
A new study using fMRI shows dogs and humans process sounds similarly. However, it's still not clear why dogs have evolved the ability to differentiate praise and neutral words.

Bird Brain: An Exploration of Avian Intelligence

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on August 29, 2016 in Animal Emotions
Dr. Nathan Emery's new book "Bird Brain: An Exploration of Avian Intelligence" is a gold mine of information and surprises about the latest research on bird smarts.

Commandeering Cuteness for Commercialism

By Douglas Van Praet on August 27, 2016 in Unconscious Branding
There is a good reason why cute and cuddly baby animals are tugging at your heart and pulling on your purse strings.

Road Rage: A Second "Free-Range" Intervention

What is real power? It is acting like the biggest dog on the road.

Psychological and Environmental Aspects of Who We Eat

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on August 26, 2016 in Animal Emotions
"Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming" highlights the incredible damage agricultural practices do to our planet and psyches and offers viable solutions.

Survival, Aggression—and Compassion

What do you expect from those around you—competition or compassion? Here's a surprising example.

Defenders of Wildlife Supports Killing Wolves: Livestock Win

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on August 24, 2016 in Animal Emotions
This shocking decision presents many challenges to conservation psychologists, anthrozoologists, and those interested in compassionate conservation.

Farm Animal Suffering Leaves a Bad Taste In Your Mouth

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on August 24, 2016 in Animals and Us
In a series of recent experiments, researchers found that whether we think animals were raised humanely or on a factory farm affects the way their meat tastes.

Frigatebirds Sleep While Flying: Somnambulism Gone Wild

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on August 24, 2016 in Animal Emotions
No friggin' kidding, frigatebirds can fly for weeks on end by power napping in ten-second bursts with only one side of their brain.

Autistics as Undomesticated Humans

To the extent that humans are a self-domesticated species, autistics can be seen as less domesticated than others.

Do Dogs Prefer Food or Praise?

A new study looks at whether dogs prefer food rewards more than social interaction with their owners by monitoring what goes on inside the dogs brain.

Kids, Chimps, and Cooperation

By Art Markman Ph.D. on August 23, 2016 in Ulterior Motives
People are pretty good at sharing when they are cooperating. When does that ability develop? Is it uniquely human?