Animal Behavior Essential Reads

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

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on July 11, 2015 in Animal Emotions
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 in 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

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.

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 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.

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.

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?

How Long Will Your Dog Live?

New data shows that a dog's size has a greater influence on its life expectancy then we had previously believed.

Elephants Rescue Baby Who Lies Down on a Busy Highway

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on May 27, 2015 in Animal Emotions
They say a picture is worth a thousand words and this video of a herd of elephants rescuing a young herd member who decides for some reason to lie down on a busy highway in Kruger National Park in South Africa is well worth numerous words and the two plus minutes it'll take to watch it. Other animals can teach us valuable lessons about caring, compassion, and empathy.

Empathic Rats Save Drowning Pals Rather than Eat Chocolate

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on May 13, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Research once again shows rats display empathy so why do we continue to torture them in all sorts of invasive research? In the latest study rats were found to save other rats from drowning rather than eat chocolate and were "more likely to help when they’ve had an unpleasant swimming experience of their own, adding to growing evidence that the rodents feel empathy."

Do Dogs Have Empathy for Human Stress and Discomfort?

Dogs and humans seem to respond in the same way when they hear the crying sounds of the distressed baby.

Makings of a Child

What is a father? How does assisted reproduction reshape how we think of fathers and mothers, and what are the consequences for children's genetic, epigenetic and cultural legacies?

Captive Killer Whales Die Much Younger than Wild Orcas

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on April 29, 2015 in Animal Emotions
A new study shows captive killer whales don't live as long as wild relatives. The researchers show that "62 to 81 percent of wild female killer whales live at least 15 years. In contrast, only 27 percent of the now-dead females in the captive study survived that long. Roughly half of the still-living captive female whales are at least 15 years old."

Does Emotional Attachment to an Owner Change in Older Dogs?

Although older dogs may appear to be more placid and less emotionally responsive, physiological measures show that this is not the case. They may actually be reacting to stress to a greater degree than they did when they were younger.

Putting Music to the Words

By David Ludden Ph.D. on April 13, 2015 in Talking Apes
In animal communication systems, you can have either syntax or semantics. Human language, however, integrates the two. As a result, our range of expression is almost limitless.

What's in a Name? A Lot More Than You Think.

What are the little things in your room and your life telling you?

The Modern Savage: A New Book Questions Why We Eat Animals

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on April 01, 2015 in Animal Emotions
James McWilliams' book "The Modern Savage: Our Unthinking Decision to Eat Animals" is a very thoughtful work about our meal plans where he covers the ecological and ethical reasons for not eating other animals and shows that labels such as "cage free," "free range," and "humanely raised" are not necessarily sound and ethical. There's a good life beyond beef and after meat.

The Emotional Lives of Rats: Rats Read Pain in Others' Faces

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on April 01, 2015 in Animal Emotions
A new study shows that rats are able to read the pain that other rats are suffering. When are those people who are responsible for writing legislation to protect animals from invasive and abusive research going to use the scientific information that is readily available to protect them from unnecessary harm, pain, and death? The federal Animal Welfare Act is lame.

Do Dog People and Cat People Differ in Terms of Dominance?

New data suggest that dog people and cat people are selecting their preferred pet because it complements their own personality.

Is Sadomasochism a Uniquely Human Form of Sexuality?

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on February 25, 2015 in Animals and Us
From an evolutionary point of view, the enjoyment of pain would seem to be maladaptive. Is there an animal analog of finding sexual satisfaction in being whipped, poked with needles, or having hot wax dripped on your skin?

Are Humans Unique?

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on February 18, 2015 in The Human Beast
The argument for human uniqueness is of mostly historical interest. As we gained more understanding of animal behavior, we learned that their psychology has more in common with us than had been imagined previously.

In the Human Brain, Dogs and Children Are Equally Lovable

MRI data explores how human mothers respond to their own children and to their family dog. The similarities are remarkable.

A Defense of Jealousy

By Glenn C. Altschuler Ph.D. on December 23, 2014 in This Is America
In Jealousy, Peter Toohey provides a charming and instructive survey of a much maligned emotion. He examines jealousy in many of its guises, including sexual jealousy, the Oedipus Complex, and sibling rivalry. Aware that it can be an ugly emotion, he argues that jealousy is an evolutionary adaptation that "can be a beautiful thing."