Essential Reads

Guinea Pigs Have a Positive Effect on Autistic Children

These cute and cuddly rodents make kids more interactive and less anxious

Want to Make More Friends? Get a Dog

A new study finds powerful social benefits for dog owners.

Encounters with Dead Pets: A Study of the Evolution of Grief

False recognitions of dead dogs and cats are common among grieving pet owners.

How to Tell a Dog What to Do Next

First a dog has to understand that you are actually giving it an instruction.

Recent Posts on Animal Behavior

Of Crime, Criminality, and Nature

By Joe Nedelec Ph.D. on June 30, 2015 in The Nature of Crime
Thieving primates, invading chimpanzees, alcoholic monkeys, and insect rape are a few examples of the criminality evident in nature discussed in this post. To further lay the foundation for a biosocial viewpoint of crime and criminality, this post examines how human criminal behavior has numerous analogues in the wild.

Empathic and Fun-Loving Rats also Dream of a Better Future

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on June 30, 2015 in Animal Emotions
New research shows rats may dream of the future just as humans do. The rats appear to be "rehearsing totally novel journeys that the animals need to take in order to reach the food” according to one of the researchers.

Guinea Pigs Have a Positive Effect on Autistic Children

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on June 29, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Cute and cuddly guinea pigs help make kids with autism spectrum disorder more interactive and less anxious.

Will the Arguing Ever End?

By Seth Slater M.F.A. on June 29, 2015 in The Dolphin Divide
Why things get worse before getting better. We all argue now and then. Chronic arguing, however, requires thoughtful and ongoing work. Happy endings are possible—but there may be a storm or two before the calm.

Separation Anxiety: The Great Imitator, Part 3

In blog #3 of this series discussing dog behavior problems when left home alone, Dr. Stepita explores various causes of urination and defecation in the house as well as treatment options.

Violent Humans Are Animals, but Not Behaving Like Animals

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on June 24, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Each time there's a violent incident involving a human animal ("human") there are many snippets in various media claiming something like, "He's an animal." The use of the word "animal" always refers to nonhuman animals and this is a radically misleading and dismissive claim because while humans are animals science shows we are not really behaving like other animals.

Want to Make More Friends? Get a Dog

New data confirms that walking your dog makes it more likely that you will know your neighborhood and form friendships in your community.

A Point of Reference: Weight and the Concept of Set Point

Considering all the food our bodies process throughout our lifetime, our weight remains, for the most part, within a fairly constant range. In other words, our bodies tend to “defend” that weight, especially after weight loss, and that is why it is so difficult for us to maintain our weight at a lower level. Is there a set point for weight?

Wolves and Baboons in Ethiopia Form Unlikely Friendships

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on June 19, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Critically rare and endangered Ethiopian wolves show an increase in capturing rodents when foraging within a gelada baboon herd. Discovering these surprising unlikely relationships in the wild show that there is still much to learn about the magnificent animals with whom we share our wondrous planet.

Effectiveness of Rewards and Punishments in Dog Training

Data shows that using punishment as part of dog training, or to control unwanted behaviors, is not particularly effective, and may actually trigger some behavioral problems.

A Judge's Ignorance on Sexual Assault Issues?

By Ana Nogales on June 18, 2015 in Family Secrets
Under no circumstance is a minor capable of consenting to sex.

Encounters with Dead Pets: A Study of the Evolution of Grief

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on June 17, 2015 in Animals and Us
Bereaved pet owners sometimes think they have seen or heard their dead dogs or cats. Here's what these errors reveal about the evolutionary functions of grief.

New Zealand Declares Animals to be Sentient, Bans Testing

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on June 16, 2015 in Animal Emotions
In an unprecedented move, New Zealand declares nonhuman animals to be sentient beings and makes animal testing illegal. This new legislation is totally consistent with what we already have known about the cognitive and emotional lives of animals and is precedent setting. U. S. legislation and guidelines do not keep up with the science of animal emotions and sentience.

Dogtology: A New Book About Our Obsession With Dogs

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on June 16, 2015 in Animal Emotions
A new book called "Dogtology" explores what the author calls our dog-centric "religion." It's a very interesting read about these amazing animals, however, there are places where dogs are misrepresented as displaying "unconditional acceptance" and living in the moment. Nonetheless, "Dogtology" will make you think deeply about why so many are taken with their furry friends.

Dogs Snub Mean People and Apes Like Positive Spin

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on June 15, 2015 in Animal Emotions
New research shows dogs are rather picky and apes prefer positive framing. In the first study, a team of Japanese researchers discovered that dogs will snub people who are mean to their owners, and in the second we learned that, like humans, nonhuman great apes, especially males, are susceptible to positive spin.

Separation Anxiety: The Great Imitator, Part 2

In blog #2 of this series Dr. Stepita discusses the importance of ruling confinement anxiety and barrier frustration. The treatment for these separation anxiety imitators could lead to a quick fix of the problem behaviors.

Pigs are Intelligent, Emotional, and Cognitively Complex

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on June 12, 2015 in Animal Emotions
A recent review of research on pigs shows they are complex sentient beings. Among the many extremely interesting and fascinating findings is the discovery that "not only can pigs connect with the emotions of other pigs, but they can also do so with pigs who are responding emotionally in anticipation of future events." Pigs also have unique personalities and love to play.

Good News for Dogs and Cats, Tragic News for Coyote Killers

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on June 12, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Retired research dogs and cats must now be offered for adoption in Nevada and two men working for Wildlife Services tragically die trying to kill coyotes from an airplane.

The Kindness of Dogs: New Book Explains Why Cesar's Gotta Go

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on June 10, 2015 in Animal Emotions
"The Secret History of Kindness: Learning From How Dogs Learn" by Melissa Pierson extols behaviorism and positive reinforcement in training dogs. This wide-ranging book provides a detailed history of B. F. Skinner's behaviorism -- where people get it right and many get it wrong -- and how being kind to dogs and other animals is the only way to teach them to live with us.

How to Tell a Dog What to Do Next

Research confirms that eye contact and a dog's name are critical components in getting a dog to respond to a learned command.

The Compassionate Equestrian: Loving Horses with Heart

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on June 07, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Dr. Allen Schoen and Susan Gordon's new book called "The Compassionate Equestrian: 25 Principles to Live by When Caring for and Working with Horses" is a wonderful read. These most amazing equine beings are found worldwide in environments ranging from those in which they're cherished and loved to those in which they're wantonly abused. This book could be a game-changer.

Dogs Can Predict Human Personality Traits

The symbiotic relationship between dogs and their owners has developed to the point where dogs can predict personality traits.

Hippo Love

With a reputation for aggressiveness, the hippopotamus is not usually thought of as "loving." But in a new book, "A Hippo Love Story," a more nuanced picture is revealed about these freshwater giants. The key to love, it seems, is good communication.

The Ratio of Love

The sex ratio influences men's mating and parenting effort. In a mating market, more men can mean more stable relationships and child-rearing. Yet this may be surprising when we also imagine men's lives in male-dominated social niches, like frontier mining towns, where plenty of gambling, prostitution and gun-toting can prevail.

Lions and Tigers and Bears, No More

By Mark Derr on June 05, 2015 in Dog's Best Friend
A majority of the world's large carnivores and herbivores face extinction if more is not done to save them from ourselves.

Chez Chimp: Why Our Primate Cousins Don't Cook

Chimpanzees like their tubers cooked. What does that tell us about what it means to be human?

Pain, Fear, and Death Documented at Monkey Breeding Facility

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on June 02, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Videos and pictures documenting the horrific and unspeakable abuse of monkeys have generated a USDA inspection for violations at a primate breeding facility. If you have the stomach for it, you can see a video and some photos online. You can do something about it by filing a petition that already has more than 15,000 signatures. These monkeys really need your support.

Is There a Relationship between Playfulness and Trainability

Recent data leads to the conclusion that if you test a puppy's eagerness to play with a person you may actually be testing its trainability as well.

Separation Anxiety: The Great Imitator, Part 1

Did you know that behaviors we commonly think of as being diagnostic for separation anxiety (destruction, urination/defecation inside, vocalization) can actually be signs of other behavior problems? In this series of blogs, Dr. Stepita will explore these causes as the problem is unlikely to be managed or resolved without knowing the root cause of your dog's behavior.