Essential Reads

Dogs Avoid People Who Are Not Cooperative with Their Owners

Dogs don't like people who are unhelpful or uncooperative to their loved ones

Evolutionary Basis to Differences Between Cats and Dogs

An Almost-Serious Scholarly Debate on Evolved Behavioral Differences

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

A new study shows humans have incredibly broad negative effects as predators

A Path of Few Regrets

The risk of decisional regret in animal end-of-life care

Recent Posts on Animal Behavior

The Pet Privilege: How Animals Help Children Thrive

Granddaughters Ava and Sara discuss their delight in owning their cats, Ellie and Rudy, and describe their enjoyment of frequent visits with our dogs, Bliss and Oakley. Research underscores that pet ownership and animal interaction can assist children in optimal life development in some surprising ways.

Is Human Connection the Antidote for Addiction?

In the 1970's Bruce Alexander ran an experiment to question the universality of the “drug-induced addiction.” He built a "rat park" where test subjects (rats) were offered enrichment rather than (the usual) deprivation. He found that when given a choice to bond with others, most test subjects do. Human parallels are drawn, comparisons with irrelationship are offered.

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

By Seth Slater M.F.A. on July 30, 2015 in The Dolphin Divide
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 in 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.

Cat Lovers In Denial

By Arthur Dobrin D.S.W. on July 29, 2015 in Am I Right?
Love wears rose-colored glasses and that ain't good.

Living Closer to the Bone (Part 2)

By Michael Jawer on July 27, 2015 in Feeling Too Much
Evolutionary and behavioral science is giving credence to what Darwin observed and intuited 140 years ago. Studies indicate with a fair degree of certainty that animals have intense experiences comparable to human feelings of joy, anger, love, exuberance, delight, compassion, sorrow, and grief.

Animal "Euthanasia" Is Often Slaughter: Consider Kangaroos

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on July 27, 2015 in Animal Emotions
KIlling baby kangaroos by stamping on their head or decapitating to learn how to kill them "humanely" isn't euthanasia or mercy killing, it's slaughter. The study about which I write here refers to killing joeys who have lost, or will lose their mothers, as euthanasia, which it is not. Many people misuse the word "euthanasia" to sanitize what they are actually doing.

Cats: Owners Say Let Them be Predators and Kill Wildlife

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on July 25, 2015 in Animal Emotions
A new study conducted in the UK shows people are fine with free-running cats killing wildlife and that experts disagree with whether or not cats are having a significant ecological impact. One researcher claims that the evidence is "flimsy." Many people also say "let them be cats" and pay the price for being allowed to roam freely. Clearly there are many issues at hand.

Get Real About Teamwork

When a team mate is uncooperative, you may be tempted to ignore it to maintain the harmony. But if you do this all the time, fake cooperation gets confused with real cooperation. You shouldn't have to choose between team work and reality. Here's a way to have both.

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.

How Charlie Got His Groove Back

By Scott G. Eberle Ph.D. on July 23, 2015 in Play in Mind
Charlie the Dog or The Dood—our undersized, but athletic Goldendoodle—spent his first four-and-a-half years enthralled by squirrels and hooked on the game of chasing them.

Your Brain and Health in Nature: Rewilding Is Good For Us

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on July 23, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Two new studies show how walking in nature changes the brain and how trees can make people healthier including cardio-metabolic conditions. For those whose frenetic lives leave little time for getting outside, this is good news. And, there don't appear to be any downsides to taking a short break and getting out in nature and rewilding our hearts.

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.

Why Science Does Not Need Female or Male Mice

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on July 20, 2015 in Animal Emotions
An editorial called “Why Science Needs Female Mice” by the New York Times Editorial Review Board relies on a new study that concludes that research performed only on male mice are inadequate to understand human disease. Yet, numerous prominent researchers have concluded that studies on mice and other animals of either sex are inadequate to understand human disease.

Waists, Hips and the Sexy Hourglass Shape

By Robert D. Martin Ph.D. on July 20, 2015 in How We Do It
Various studies have recorded men’s attractiveness ratings of alternative representations of women’s body shape. Tests often involve simple features such as the ratio between waist and hip widths. The aim has been to identify features that evolved as signals of mate breeding potential. But could such simple indicators influence the complex process of human partner choice?

Living Closer to the Bone (Part 1)

By Michael Jawer on July 18, 2015 in Feeling Too Much
If you’re a pet owner, then you know that these animals have feelings. Other mammals may even be more aware of feelings that human beings are, because they possess a ‘primary’ form of consciousness: they live closer to the bone, so to speak, than we do.

Unnatural Sex

By Isadora Alman MFT on July 17, 2015 in Sex & Sociability
Unnatural sex is absolutely relative. One must ask "Unnatural to whom?"

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?

Why You May Want to Be a Cat Person (Or Have One Around)

By Peg Streep on July 14, 2015 in Tech Support
Are Cat people really that different from Dog people? Actually, they are in some respects. But does that mean that never the twain shall meet? The low-down on the special qualities Cat people have...

Baboons Might Kidnap Puppies (But Not As Pets)

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on July 13, 2015 in Animals and Us
A wildlife documentary film claims that Saudi Arabian baboons kidnap puppies and raise them as pets. Here a distinguished animal behaviorist explains why this behavior makes sense from a baboon's point of view—and why it is not a form of pet-keeping.

Nine Strategies for Enhancing Enrichment for Cats with Jobs

From our homes, to shelters, to research facilities, we should consider the unique perspective of the cat and modify our interactions and the environment to celebrate the welfare of the cat.

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.

A Tale of Two Brains: Are Two Really Better than One?

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on July 11, 2015 in Animal Emotions
A recent study of brain-melding -- wiring together the brains of different animals -- raises many important questions about ethics that go beyond neural privacy. While some might think these sorts of experiments are "cool" and futuristic, they raise many frequently ignored questions about the use of animals in these and other research projects.

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.

The Healing Power of Pets

Abby helped Amanda through anxiety and depression. Abby is a cat.

What I Keep Learning From My Cockapoo

I’ve come to realize that the simplicity of a “dog’s life” is misleading. In actuality, they are remarkably wise and the way in which they approach each day offers all of us powerful lessons that can profoundly impact the quality of our lives. What follows is 'the world according to Lucy.'

Dog Days of Summer

An 11-year old with severe injury to the liver was reported in June, linked to the use of a commercially-available blue-green algae dietary supplement. The victim’s liver dysfunction was severe enough to adversely affect her blood clotting ability and it required hospitalization. To the relief of her owners, the 11 year-old, twenty pound Pug dog made a full recovery.

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