Animal Behavior Essential Reads

How People Perceive Dogs With Docked Tails and Cropped Ears

New data shows that seeing a dog with a docked tail and cropped ears may cause people to believe that the dog is aggressive and its owner might be aggressive as well.

How a Cultural Meme Was Born

New insights into the origin of language as a mandrill in an English zoo invents a gesture for "leave me alone," and it spreads through the community

Can Your Dog Help You Get Dates?

Your reaction to your own dog and your date's dog may determine how attractive you appear to a potential partner.

What We Learn From Our Pets

By Dan Mager MSW on June 13, 2016 in Some Assembly Required
Simply having pets can have wonderful therapeutic value.

Lessons About Gendered Behaviors from Mountain Gorillas

A population of Mountain Gorillas recently underwent a complete upheaval in the most central aspects of their gender-based social structures. If they can do it, so can we.

What to Do When Your Routine Becomes a Rut

When a routine becomes a rut you miss opportunities to try something new. Balance risks and rewards to avoid getting stuck doing the same old thing.

Did Dogs Arise on Opposite Sides of Eurasia?

By Mark Derr on June 03, 2016 in Dog's Best Friend
Were dogs domesticated twice on opposite sides of Eurasia?

Body Weight in the Time of Climate Control

Why have we become fatter in the past 40 years? One plausible contribution is the amount of time we spend in climate-controlled surroundings--the so-called "thermoneutral zone"-TNZ

Judging Rover—Who's a Good Dog?

How do you measure your dog's worth? A look at what's truly important.

Why Was the Gorilla Harambe Killed at the Cincinnati Zoo?

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on May 30, 2016 in Animal Emotions
Harambe was killed to save a 4-year-old boy who fell into his cage. Numerous people are outraged and saddened by this tragedy.

Shark Personalities: A Shark Isn't a Shark Isn't a Shark

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on May 29, 2016 in Animal Emotions
Individual personalities among members of the same species are widespread and must be considered when we talk casually about "the shark," "the dog," or any other animals.

How to enjoy life (more)

Lessons I learned as a spy for U.S. Intelligence

Helping Children Become Nurturers

Caring for others is a central mandate for adults as parents, caregivers to the elderly or helpers for those with disabilities. Can children grow into nurturers?

Are You Killing Your Dog With Sweetness?

The FDA warns that a sweetener used in sugarless gum, candy, baked goods, toothpaste, and some nut butters can be life-threatening to dogs.

What the Bible and “Nature” Say About Bathroom Laws

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on May 09, 2016 in Animals and Us
Is the North Carolina law legalizing discrimination against gays, lesbians, and transsexuals consistent with the Bible and the laws of nature?

Are You Ready to Give Another Animal the Best Life Possible?

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on May 09, 2016 in Animal Emotions
Are you prepared to give a companion animal the very best life they can have in your care? A new book called "Run, Spot, Run" clearly lays out the deep commitment it really takes.

To Hug or Not to Hug?

By Nicholas Dodman on May 03, 2016 in Dog Days
Do you want to know what's really going on in an animal's mind when you hug it appropriately?

Cheats and Deceits: Trickery and Deception Are Widespread

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on May 02, 2016 in Animal Emotions
An excellent new book explains how animals and plants exploit and mislead.

Why Do Animal Tragedies Go Viral?

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on April 29, 2016 in Animals and Us
A new study investigates why the death of Cecil the Lion became an instant world-wide internet sensation.

"Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?"

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on April 26, 2016 in Animal Emotions
A new and important book by primatologist Frans de Waal considers the critical questions and data that center on the cognitive lives of a wide variety of nonhuman animals.
Photo courtesy of Dietrich Stout and Emory University

Tool Use and the Emergence of Language

By Laura Otis Ph.D. on April 24, 2016 in Rethinking Thought
Motor and language skills may seem distinct, but in human brains they are closely related.

Can Dogs See in Ultraviolet?

Recent research suggests that dogs may see patterns in the ultraviolet that are invisible to humans.

Consciousness, Suffering and the Rights of Animals

By John Staddon, Ph.D. on April 22, 2016 in Adaptive Behavior
Can an amoeba suffer and should we care?

Neurobiology of Self-Control in Dogs

By Gregory S. Berns on April 17, 2016 in plus2sd
A new study in dogs trained for MRI shows the part of the brain necessary for impulse control.

Just How Different Are Cat People and Dog People?

The commonly held belief that cat people and dog people differ in fundamental ways, put to the test in earlier research, may need to be revisited.

The Data Says "Don't Hug the Dog!"

An analysis of photographs of people affectionately hugging their dogs shows that the majority of the dogs are experiencing stress and anxiety at that moment.

A Dog's Size and Head Shape Predicts Its Behavior

New data suggests that the behavioral tendencies of dogs can be predicted by their height, weight, and whether they have long or short skulls.

Polyandry (One Woman, Many Men)

By David P. Barash Ph.D. on March 26, 2016 in Pura Vida
Draupadi and her five husbands: The only thing unusual here is the overt acknowledgment of this woman's polyandry.

Does Your Pet Have a Mind?

By Kurt Gray on March 22, 2016 in Minding Morality
Are pets people? It's a matter of perception.

Why Justice for Animals Is the Social Movement of Our Time

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on March 19, 2016 in Animal Emotions
As a doctor working in human rights, Hope Ferdowsian's work is driven by a quest for social justice. Here’s why she believes justice for animals is the social movement of our time.