Essential Reads

Quebec Considering Bill Declaring Animals to Be Sentient

An interview I recently did lays out what this bill likely will and won't mean.

Say Your Dog's Name and He May Form an Image of Your Face

Dogs can associate their owner's voice with a mental picture of his or her face.

How Did Dogs Become Our Best Friends?

Dr. Brian Hare studies dogs' uncanny ability to understand our gestures

Why We Have Dogs

The evolutionary origins of our four-footed friends

Recent Posts on Animal Behavior

Does a Dog's Body Language Tell Us How Much He Has Learned?

You can read a dog's body language — specifically his mouth, eyes, ear position, and tail carriage and wagging — to learn whether he has learned an obedience task well.

Build Your Nest Together

By Jennifer Verdolin Ph.D. on September 30, 2015 Wild Connections
Are you as good at cooperating in your relationship as you think you are? A few activities can reveal how well you and your partner work together.

Fear the Walking Dead: Can Brain Parasites Make Us Zombies?

By Joe Pierre M.D. on September 28, 2015 Psych Unseen
Can brain infections really turn us into zombies? Research with the human brain parasite Toxoplasma gondii suggests that yes, maybe they can.

Naropa University vs. Prairie Dogs: Just Leave Them Be

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on September 28, 2015 Animal Emotions
Boulder's contemplative Naropa University, founded by Chögyam Trungpa, should not allow "problem" prairie dogs to be killed. Killing these family-living, highly social sentient beings, is radically dispassionate and utterly sickening. I wonder what Chögyam Trungpa would feel if he knew Naropa turned into a killing field. Let's hope and pray it does not.

Is Fear of Rejection Holding You Back?

By Jennifer Verdolin Ph.D. on September 27, 2015 Wild Connections
Fear of rejection can be a major stumbling block for some when it comes to dating but does little to protect you. Rather than personalizing and internalizing this experience, a shift in perspective can help you deal with it better the next time around.

Quebec Considering Bill Declaring Animals to Be Sentient

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on September 25, 2015 Animal Emotions
Quebec’s National Assembly is considering a new bill that would declare that animals are sentient beings. An interview I recently did lays out what this bill will and won't mean. Declaring animals to be sentient beings would help them along and encourage passing and enforcing legislation to prevent intentional pain, suffering, and death. Science totally supports this move.

Getting a Leg Up on Optimism

By Seth Slater M.F.A. on September 24, 2015 The Dolphin Divide
How positive associations enable learning. None of us can learn without relationships. It turns out that variety and fun provide the spice that keeps both going strong.

The Life Expectancy of 165 Breeds of Dogs

We all want to know how long our dogs will live. Here is the first large-scale data collection showing the expected lifespan of almost all of the popular dog registered breeds. The data is given on a breed by breed basis.

Risk Analysis of Behavior Problems: Overview Part 1

Behavioral problems often elicit high emotions in owners. Owners often have been dealing with these problems for a long time and, for reasons that are real for them, now feel that they have an emergency. This is the first of four posts on factors playing a role in their decision.

My Old Dog: Rescued Seniors Show that Old Dogs Rock

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on September 21, 2015 Animal Emotions
A new book called "My Old Dog" will move you to tears of joy because old dogs rock. However, senior dogs over seven are often the highest-risk group at shelters. In a most inspirational book laden with incredible photos of senior canines, we learn that adopting a senior can be really be more rewarding than choosing a younger dog. The teaser is of Fiona in her wheelbarrow.

You Are Not Your Body

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on September 21, 2015 Ambigamy
If the history of the universe were shrunk to one year, life would have started today, September 21. Here's what happened and how to make sense of what you are as a result.

Are You a Man or a Mouse?

“Are you a man or a mouse?” This exhortation has been a way that men have encouraged other men, especially younger ones, to be brave, not to run away but rather to take things up to the next level. However, considering what has happened to men these days, I think the expression can be considered in a whole new way. Especially because mice are really pretty brave.

Where Our Brain Ends and Our Mind Begins

Although monkeys and moon bears surely differ, I am struck far more by their likenesses.

Why Animals Need Psychology

By G.A. Bradshaw Ph.D. on September 18, 2015 Bear in Mind
The study of animal behavior, ethology, alone is not sufficient to the task given scientific understanding of animal sentience.

Who Apes Whom? Frans de Waal Notes We're Not All That Unique

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on September 17, 2015 Animal Emotions
In a recent and outstanding essay in the New York Times titled "Who Apes Whom?" world renowned primatologist Frans de Waal clearly shows that among animals, humans are basically one of the gang, except for our capacity for language. I highly recommend this essay for readers of all ages as a solid review of what we know about other animals and where we fit into the scene.

Say Your Dog's Name and He May Form an Image of Your Face

Recent research suggests that dogs can recognize human voices and have an expectation, or mental image, of which faces go with which voice.

Excessive Barking Pt. II: How Do I Stop My Dog From Barking?

Once you know why your dog is barking excessively (see our earlier posts), you can look for some good solutions.

How Did Dogs Become Our Best Friends?

By Jann Gumbiner Ph.D. on September 15, 2015 The Teenage Mind
Ever wonder how dogs became our best friends? Dr. Brian Hare developed a research program to understand how dogs evolved to read human gestures.

Why We Have Dogs

Humans have had symbiotic relationships with domesticated dogs for more than 20,000 years. If you want to understand your dog today, you need to understand what your dog’s ancestors were doing thousands of years ago – and why humans and canines formed a symbiotic relationship in the first place.

13 Things Mentally Strong Dogs Don't Do—Learn From Them

Does your dog give up easily? Is your dog a loser... or is he or she mentally strong?

Are Dogs or Cats More Likely to Make Us Laugh?

People who own pets laugh more frequently than people who do not, but dog owners and those who own cats and dogs, laugh more than those who just own cats. And it is when our pet fails at something or does something unexpected that we are most likely to laugh.

Living Closer to the Bone (Part 7)

By Michael Jawer on September 10, 2015 Feeling Too Much
Sentient creatures share a profound connectedness, with one another and with nature. The concept of soul can be understood in context of this innately felt connection with creation.

Psychological Disorders in Animals: A Review of What We Know

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on September 09, 2015 Animal Emotions
An essay titled "Many animals can become mentally ill" published in BBC Earth summarizes what we know about mental illness in animals. It concludes, "But far from being something limited to pampered modern humans, mental illness can strike many kinds of animals and seems to have been around for hundreds of millions of years." I highly recommend this fascinating essay.

Animals Don't Experience Emotions, Claims Texas Journalist

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on September 06, 2015 Animal Emotions
To justify killing and eating other animals as part of the "eat-what-you-kill" movement, a journalist claims, "There is no definitive scientific evidence that animals experience emotions as we do," ignoring reams of hard scientific evidence to the contrary. It's not asking too much for those who write about animals to know about the scientific research that has been done.

Living Closer to the Bone (Part 6)

By Michael Jawer on September 05, 2015 Feeling Too Much
Animals that express gratitude, that play, that contemplate nature, that mourn, or that save a fellow creature are all demonstrating aspects of connectedness. This connectedness – underpinned by the ability to feel and emote – is the core of spirituality. It really is a matter of “fellow feeling.”

Charlie: The Feral Dog Who Came in From the Wild

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on September 03, 2015 Animal Emotions
A new book about a feral dog called "Charlie: The Dog Who Came in From the Wild" by Lisa Tenzin-Dolma shows the importance of shared trust, love, and deep commitment when one chooses to live with a "difficult dog" who came to the author with very special needs that could only be satisfied by a very special human being. This is a most important book for humans and dogs.

The Nature and Consequences of Noise Sensitivity in Dogs

Recent data suggests that noise sensitivity in dogs may be based upon genetic and physiological factors and may also predict separation anxiety, fearfulness in novel situations, and even some age-related changes in stress responses.

What Happens When the Dogs Strike Back

By Mark Derr on September 03, 2015 Dog's Best Friend
In "White God," mutts strike back against oppressive humans. Bodie is one of two canine brothers who portray Hagen.

New Book Re-examines Lives of Captive and Confined Animals

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on September 02, 2015 Animal Emotions
In his new book called "The End of Captivity?" Dr. Tripp York discusses zoos, pets, conservation, Christian ethics, and much more centering on the lives of captive and otherwise confined animals. It would be a perfect choice for undergraduate and graduate courses in biology and religious studies, and I'm sure high school students would get a lot out of reading it as well.

Excessive Barking Part I: Why Does My Dog Bark?

Does your dog bark excessively? Do you have any idea why? Before you try to stop the barking, you need to know how to address the reasons it's happening. Any other plan just puts a Band-Aid over the problem and never really corrects it.