Animal Behavior Essential Reads

The Qualities of Leaders

By Mark van Vugt Ph.D. on November 23, 2015 Naturally Selected
What makes a good leader? The way leaders are chosen and how they lead may not be so different between humans and others in the animal world. This is important to consider when we make decisions about our political leaders.

Stress Relief in Seven Minutes, Doggie Style

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on November 19, 2015 Animals and Us
Yale University researchers have found that just seven minutes in the presence of a dog named Finn caused a major decline in anxiety levels of med school students and a big upswing in their moods.

The Clothes You Wear Can Affect a Dog's Emotional State

Data shows that if your clothing has stripes vs polka-dots or plain color, it can provoke an emotional response in dogs

Chimpanzees Pass the Marshmallow Test

By David Ludden Ph.D. on November 13, 2015 Talking Apes
Over the last few decades, research has shown that our primate cousins are much closer to us in mental capacities than we’d previously thought.

Don’t Give a Monkey the Finger

In a recent viral video, a young male is attacked by a monkey after giving it the middle finger. This incident provides exceptional evidence for features of emotion systems that cut across primate species while providing some guidance on cross-species etiquette at the same time.

Nose to Nose Greeting With Puppies

Nose to nose touching with an adult dog may result in bites to a person's face, however this method of greeting may be a useful and safe technique to use when socializing puppies.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Dogs Avoid People Who Are Not Cooperative with Their Owners

New data shows that dogs, like young human children, continually watch the social interactions going on around them and use information from what they observe to decide who to avoid in the future.

Evolutionary Basis to Differences Between Cats and Dogs

Is the denial of evolved behavioral sex differences in humans similar to the idea of denying that cats and dogs differ from each other by nature? (warning: satire alert!)

Humans Are a "Unique Super-Predator" Claims New Research

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on August 21, 2015 Animal Emotions
A new study shows humans have incredibly broad negative effects as predators that are unsustainable. While a BBC essay and others that summarize this study do not make for especially pleasant reading, I urge everyone to read something about this new groundbreaking study, for its results are important for every single human. No one is spared from our predatory ways.

A Path of Few Regrets

Decisional regret—the remorse or distress than patients or caregivers experience after making high-stakes health care decisions— is a real risk, especially in high stakes decisions such as euthanasia. Although much discussed in the human health care literature, decisional regret is rarely addressed in the veterinary context.

What's Wrong with Antianxiety Drugs?

Recognition of the multiplicity of the brain systems that contribute to fear and anxiety disorders is the first step towards the development of better treatments.

Fading Fast: Is 'Thank You' a Thing of the Past?

How to reinvigorate the power of appreciation. Despite our well-meaning efforts to appreciate our fellows, our favorite phrase of acknowledgment seems to be ringing hollow these days. Can “Thank you” be restored to its former glory by capitalizing on the psychology of message delivery -- or are we doomed to a thankless world?

Do Dog Owners Make Better Lovers? Some Scientific Answers

By Peg Streep on July 30, 2015 Tech Support
Some studies have shown that dog owners like to dominate but that they're also more sociable than people without pets or people who prefer cats. But did you know that the presence of a dog changes how we assess someone, even a stranger? That and more....

Fear and Anxiety Affect the Health and Life Span of Dogs

Research shows that increased levels of certain types of fearfulness in dogs may be associated higher susceptibility to skin diseases and to reduced life span.

Why It's Time to Change How You Divide Your Time

We are constantly bombarded with how to achieve greater work-life balance. What if we pursued an optimal time budget instead? Other species do not allocate time evenly across activities. Instead they devote time according to priorities that maximize their success.

Behavior Differences Between Smaller and Larger Dogs

Research shows that there are significant differences between the behaviors of smaller and larger dogs. Some of these differences have to do with the behaviors of their owners.

What Artistic Pigeons Tell Us About Superstitious Parents

Like most first-time parents, we had a set of baby-care rules that was more complicated than the federal tax code and more sacred than the Bible. We wanted everyone to follow it to a T.

Should a Dog's Name Be Part of an Obedience Command?

Most dog trainers believe that you must use a dog's name before you give him an obedience command if you want to get a reliable response. Are they correct?

Dogs' Noses Know More Than Doctors About Cancer Detection

Dogs are highly accurate in sniffing out various cancers and outperform humans. One researcher goes as far as to claim, "If the dogs can't find VOCs in the sample, nobody can." VOCs are volatile organic compounds indicating various diseases. Disease detection by dogs is a very important area of study and I look forward to learning more about what dogs' noses really know.

Stories of Seclusion: A Woman's Best Friend

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on July 11, 2015 How To Do Life
Not everything has a rational explanation.

A Service Dog Stops an Autistic From a Self-Harming Meltdown

A remarkable video shows a service dog coming to rescue a woman from an autistic self-harming experience

Guinea Pigs Have a Positive Effect on Autistic Children

Cute and cuddly guinea pigs help make kids with autism spectrum disorder more interactive and less anxious.

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.

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

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on June 17, 2015 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.

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.