Essential Reads

The Qualities of Leaders

Clues about leadership from the animal world.

Stress Relief in Seven Minutes, Doggie Style

Do programs using dogs to relieve anxiety in university students really work?

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

The pattern on your shirt might just make a dog feel anxious and uncomfortable.

Chimpanzees Pass the Marshmallow Test

Delaying gratification isn’t a uniquely human ability after all.

Recent Posts on Animal Behavior

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.

Why do we owe sex and romance to viruses?

By Eyal Winter on August 14, 2015 Feeling Smart
Why we owe sex and romance to viruses?

Yellowstone Kills Blaze, a Bear Who Attacked Off-Trail Hiker

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on August 13, 2015 Animal Emotions
Blaze, a grizzly bear who tragically killed an off-trail hiker in Yellowstone National Park, was slaughtered today and plans are being made to place her two surviving cubs in a zoo. Following the killing of Cecil the lion, these sorts of human-animal interactions bring to light our complex and challenging relations with other animals and with spending time "out in nature."

Grief: Cross-Cultural, Cross-Species, and Personal Views

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on August 13, 2015 Animal Emotions
A recent BBC Forum called "Grief" offers a very thoughtful and easy to understand discussion of cross-cultural, cross-species, and personal perspectives in which three women consider a wide array of different forms of grief and loss. I highly recommend it as it surely will encourage listeners to pay more attention to these topics.

Pets As Ambassadors?

Affection for animals may be expressed in many, possibly interlocking, ways. New research suggests that pet-keeping is linked to positive attitudes towards the natural world, indicating that conservationists may need to rethink their antipathy towards cat owners.

Do You Prefer You Pets to Your Friends?

Pets are like a combination between court jesters and strict Freudian therapists: They can make you feel better about the world while never saying a word.

Who Gets the Dog?

By Ruth Lee Johnson J.D. on August 12, 2015 So Sue Me
When can your vengeful ex successfully take your precious pet away from you? It is more complicated than you think. Learn how to protect yourself and your furry best friend.

Do Dogs Understand Play Signals Given by Humans?

Some of the most frequently used human signals inviting dogs to play simply don't work. However there are certain signals people can give to their dogs which get them to play 100% of the time.

Living Closer to the Bone (Part 5)

By Michael Jawer on August 11, 2015 Feeling Too Much
Strange but true occurrences suggest that what family members (including our pets) feel for one another bonds us in unusual ways. Such experiences could only be chalked up to sheer one-in-a-million chance were it not for their conjunction with deep emotion.

Do Dog Owners REALLY Make Better Lovers?

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on August 10, 2015 Animals and Us
A recent Psychology Today post asked whether dog owners are better lovers. Let's look at what the new science of human-animal relationships actually reveals about the connection between love, sex, and pet-ownership.

Can the Mystery of the Dog Be Solved?

By Mark Derr on August 10, 2015 Dog's Best Friend
Dogs did not domesticate themselves in early human garbage dumps, despite what many believe.

Compassionate Conservation Meets Cecil the Slain Lion

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on August 09, 2015 Animal Emotions
A recent meeting on the growing field of compassionate conservation helped to define the field, and much discussion centered on the challenging question if killing "in the name of conservation" is acceptable. Diverse opinions were presented and while some argued that killing animals in the "most humane" way was necessary and acceptable, others argued the killing must stop.

Living Closer to the Bone (Part 4)

By Michael Jawer on August 08, 2015 Feeling Too Much
Some animals have truly distinctive personalities. The passing of one such pet created an enduring mystery while also hinting at the spiritual nature of emotion-laden family ties.

Living Closer to the Bone (Part 3)

By Michael Jawer on August 06, 2015 Feeling Too Much
Examples abound of non-human animals (dogs, pigs, bears, seals, gorillas, dolphins, whales) showing not only empathy but sympathy. In other words, these creatures not only possess an awareness of what someone else is feeling but they seek to alleviate the other’s plight.

Eating Cats

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on August 06, 2015 Animals and Us
It is widely known that in some cultures dog-meat is a delicacy. But at least a million cats a year also find their way into the stew pot. Here's what we can learn about human-animal relationships from people who dine on feline flesh.

A Punished Dog Is an Aggressive Dog

Physically punishing human children leads to higher levels of aggression and data now shows that the same holds for dogs.

Dogs: The Ultimate Team Players

Creating a You + Me = We connection with your dog.

The Evolutionary Advantage of Being a Rock Star

By Ryan Anderson on August 05, 2015 The Mating Game
How to attract a partner, the peacock way

Personality Research in Animals

One of the hottest topics in the field of animal behavior is the study of personality in nonhuman species.

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?

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.

Cat Lovers In Denial

By Arthur Dobrin D.S.W. on July 29, 2015 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 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

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

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.