Essential Reads

5 Reasons That Life Is Hard

Evolutionary Psychology and Everyday Life

Putting Music to the Words

Some species sing, some species call, but only humans do both

Why Lions and Tigers and Funny Names Make Us Happy

Changing lots of little things will help turn our jungles into Shangri-la

Chimpanzees and Cheesecake

What food calls tell us about the origins of speech

Recent Posts on Animal Behavior

Dogs on the Inside: Must See Documentary on Dogs and Inmates

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on February 09, 2015 in Animal Emotions
A new documentary, called "Dogs on the Inside," shows how dogs can be catalysts for trust, rehabilitation, and love behind bars. Clearly, it's a win-win situation for the dogs and the inmates. This film reflects my own experiences of teaching inmates about animal behavior as part of Jane Goodall's global Roots & Shoots program. It is perfect for audiences of all ages.

Bipartisan Support to Protect "Food Animals" from Torture

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on February 08, 2015 in Animal Emotions
"Food animals" at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center need all help possible, and now there is bipartisan support brewing in the U. S. Congress to protect them against the heinous treatment to which meat researchers subject them in their reprehensible quest for profit. An essay in the New York Times brought to light the unimaginable ways these animals are brutalized.

Compassionate Conservation: More than "Welfarism Gone Wild"

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on February 08, 2015 in Animal Emotions
A forthcoming essay lays out the agenda for compassion as a practical ethic for conservation. The guiding principle for the rapidly growing field called "compassionate conservation" is "first do no harm" and stresses the importance of individual animals. For those who want to learn more about compassionate conservation, there will be a meeting in July 2015 in Vancouver.

The Seduction of Syntax

By David Ludden Ph.D. on February 06, 2015 in Talking Apes
There is no language module in the brain. Instead, language processing runs through the same neural circuits that the brain has been using to perform other information processing tasks for millions of years.

Are Your Affairs in Order?

By Rick Miller LICSW on February 05, 2015 in Unwrapped
After we are gone, where our stuff ends up, even where we end up, will be decisions left to others … unless we take the steps now to ensure that our wishes are carried forward. Not only does this protect our legacy, it relieves the burden from loved ones of trying to guess what we would have wanted.

Rare Warty Pig at Bristol Zoo Eats Family and Other Losses

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on February 05, 2015 in Animal Emotions
There are major problems at this zoo including losses of a rare monkey and birds who escape. Although the Bristol Zoo is considered to be a "good zoo," clearly it is not good enough to avoid these tragic events and more needs to be done to make sure they don't happen again. Zoos change their residents' behavior and there never can be too much surveillance of the animals.

Can Therapy Dogs Help Cure Cancer?

By Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C. on February 05, 2015 in Canine Corner
Do therapy dogs have any effect on the physical, functional, or emotional well-being of cancer patients?

Animals in France: What Really Happened about Sentience?

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on February 04, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Animals in France have new but very limited status, "living beings gifted sentience," but it's extremely limited in scope. They're still property, farm animals are not covered, and this change "only applies to pets or wild animals tamed or held in captivity. The sentience of wild animals, meanwhile, is not recognized." It's better than nothing but still lots to do.

Cats Get Bad Press (Again)

By John Bradshaw Ph.D. on February 04, 2015 in Pets and Their People
British columnist Caitlin Moran confesses to hating one of her cats—but it’s all down to a misunderstanding (or two).

Lonely Ants Die Young: They Don't Know What to Do When Alone

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on February 03, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Socially isolated lose ants lose digestive functions and suffer due to this loss. They die at around six days of age, whereas group-living ants die at around 66 days of age. This study on ants shows that social isolation and health are closely related and much more research is needed in this area. It's notable that "even ants" show a negative reaction to loneliness.

Learning Theory in Practice: Housebreaking a Puppy

Will Yuki be trained before the first snowfall?

Invasive "Rat Research" Should be Abolished Once and for All

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on January 31, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Despite the fact that the federal Animal Welfare Act in the U. S. does not consider rats of the genus Rattus, and mice of the genus Mus, to be animals -- no kidding -- they surely are, and they should be protected from harm and suffering incurred in invasive and abusive research. In fact, to get this most-needed discussion going, I and others call for abolishing their use.

Killing Tigers For Money and Protecting the Wild

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on January 31, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Two new books are essential reads for anyone who's interested in how we are negatively affecting other animals and their homes. The first, called "Blood of the Tiger," exposes the conspiracy and greed that continues to impede saving these magnificent animals, and the second, called "Protecting the Wild," implores us to rewild and to enlarge and connect protected areas.

It’s Not What You Say, But How You Say It

By David Ludden Ph.D. on January 30, 2015 in Talking Apes
Most of our daily conversations are about building and maintaining social relationships, and the actual content of those conversations is usually unimportant.

Doing the Right Thing: An Interview with Stevan Harnad

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on January 29, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Readers will find here a wide-ranging interview/dialogue with Dr. Stevan Harnad, the founder and former editor-in-chief of the highly influential journal called Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS). Dr. Harnad is a broad, eclectic, and thoughtful man and this discussion covers many topics including research methodologies, computers, and animal ethics.

Wolf Murder Canadian Style Continues as if It's Conservation

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on January 28, 2015 in Animal Emotions
The Canadian government plans to kill wolves once again to save caribou. An earlier murder escapade in Alberta didn't work and there's no reason to assume this one will. They even use collared "Judas" wolves to lead shooters to more wolves. The real problem is loss of habitat due to oil and gas development and logging. Some people just like to kill other animals for fun.

Cooperative Feather Play Between an Orca and a Dolphin

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on January 28, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Read about a playful interaction between Skana, who inspired Greenpeace, and her dolphin friend.

The First Dogs in the Americas

Humans arrived in the Americas before dogs, so when did dogs come to the New World, where did they come from, and what did they look like?

How “Natural” Is A Cloned Cow...Or A Cloned Dog?

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on January 27, 2015 in Animals and Us
How natural is a cloned cow or a chihuahua or a dolphin at Sea World? Is an outdoor cat more natural than an indoor cat? We developed a scale to measure perceptions of the "naturalness" of different animals. As you can see from this graph, our results were surprising.

Odd Couples Redux: Animals Make Friends with Other Species

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on January 26, 2015 in Animal Emotions
An essay in the New York Times by Erica Goode offers a nice review of unlikely friendships that form between members of different species. While there is a lot to learn, one thing is for sure, we no longer have to put the word friends in quotes because we're not sure if nonhumans form meaningful and enduring friendships. Indeed, this never should have been the case.

What If Your Therapist Had A Dog In The Office?

A Chow Chow named Jo-Fi attended therapy sessions by Sigmund Freud: should today’s therapists have a canine assistant? How do clients feel about the dog in therapy sessions?

Roots of Dogs Found in Wolf Cooperation

By Mark Derr on January 25, 2015 in Dog's Best Friend
Scientists look at the wolf and see dog.

Why Friendships Are So Vital

By Jennifer Verdolin Ph.D. on January 25, 2015 in Wild Connections
Lasting friendships are built on repeated actions that foster cooperation and support that can have immediate benefits which, over time, increase your survival and success. But not all friendships are created equal and it can be critical to determine what the true nature of your friendships are.

Environmental Stimulation and Environmental Psychology

By Lindsay J. McCunn on January 24, 2015 in iEnvironment
Returning to the theory of things.

Rollovers Do Not Always Mean a Dog Is Afraid or Submissive

The so-called "submissive rollover" in dogs is not really what it seems — at least when applied to play behavior.

"Food Animals" Brutalized at Federally Funded "Meat Lab"

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on January 20, 2015 in Animal Emotions
An essay in the New York Times by Michael Moss shows that animals at Nebraska's U.S. Meat Animal Research Center are engineered, harmed, and killed -- some left to die on their own -- in their reprehensible quest for profit. If you're a doubter and think this is some "radical hype" this essay will show you just how brutal "food animals" are treated in the name of science.

A Matter of Breeding: How We've Greatly Harmed BFF Dogs

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on January 20, 2015 in Animal Emotions
A new book by Michael Brandow called "A Matter of Breeding" provides a "biting history of pedigree dogs" due to the quest for status by humans. It's surely going to rub people in many different ways, ranging from acceptance to anger, but it's an essential read for those who want to know more about how we have strongly affected the awesome beings whom many call their BFF.

3 Things Being A Cat Person or Dog Person Reveals About You

By Peg Streep on January 19, 2015 in Tech Support
Does knowing whether someone prefers cats to dogs or dogs to cats give you insight into who they are? Should you be asking about pets when you choose a doctor or lawyer, or hire a realtor or a nanny? Here's what science knows.... and you should too.

Meditating on Mindfulness

By Seth Slater M.F.A. on January 18, 2015 in The Dolphin Divide
How meditation boosts mental dexterity and eases the pain of depression. Science shows that our malleable minds have more power than we sometimes give ourselves credit for when it comes to dispelling the darkness within. Recent studies indicate that meditative practices confer other psychic benefits as well.

If We Could Talk to the Animals

By David Ludden Ph.D. on January 16, 2015 in Talking Apes
Animal communication systems aren’t just simple languages, as there are fundamental differences between the ways that animals and humans communicate.