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

How Charlie Got His Groove Back

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

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

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

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 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

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 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 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

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?

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 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

"Killer" Cats?

Conservationists have been scapegoating cat owners for decades, but hard evidence that pet cats (as distinct from feral cats) actually have any long-term effect on the populations of their prey has proved hard to come by. New approaches will be needed if there is to be any meaningful dialogue between the two camps.

Dogs and the Death Penalty

Serious attention is being given to the human death penalty right now—both its overall constitutionality and morality, and also the particular methods by which it is carried out. This is a good opportunity to reexamine the use of death penalty language in relation to companion animals and assess whether it helps or harms.

Beyond Words: A New Book About What Animals Think and Feel

Award-winning scientist Carl Safina's "Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel" is an excellent summary of recent research on the fascinating animals with whom we share our magnificent planet. I highly recommend "Beyond Words" and I hope it will enjoy a broad and global audience. It really is that thoughtful and important. In many ways "Beyond Words" is beyond words.

Fish Smarts: Why Fish Are More Than Just Streams of Protein

Fish are smart, sentient, and know a lot about themselves and others. A renowned researcher concludes, "the extensive evidence of fish behavioural and cognitive sophistication and pain perception suggests that best practice would be to lend fish the same level of protection as any other vertebrate." Stay tuned for more on the amazing cognitive and emotional lives of fish.

Separation Anxiety: The Great Imitator, Part 4

You’ve been waiting for it! In the grand finale of this series Dr. Stepita discusses treatment option for canine separation anxiety.

Of Crime, Criminality, and Nature

Thieving primates, invading chimpanzees, alcoholic monkeys, and insect rape are a few examples of the criminality evident in nature discussed in this post. To further lay the foundation for a biosocial viewpoint of crime and criminality, this post examines how human criminal behavior has numerous analogues in the wild.

Empathic and Fun-Loving Rats also Dream of a Better Future

New research shows rats may dream of the future just as humans do. The rats appear to be "rehearsing totally novel journeys that the animals need to take in order to reach the food” according to one of the researchers.

Guinea Pigs Have a Positive Effect on Autistic Children

Cute and cuddly guinea pigs help make kids with autism spectrum disorder more interactive and less anxious.

Will the Arguing Ever End?

Why things get worse before getting better. We all argue now and then. Chronic arguing, however, requires thoughtful and ongoing work. Happy endings are possible—but there may be a storm or two before the calm.

Separation Anxiety: The Great Imitator, Part 3

In blog #3 of this series discussing dog behavior problems when left home alone, Dr. Stepita explores various causes of urination and defecation in the house as well as treatment options.

Violent Humans Are Animals, but Not Behaving Like Animals

Each time there's a violent incident involving a human animal ("human") there are many snippets in various media claiming something like, "He's an animal." The use of the word "animal" always refers to nonhuman animals and this is a radically misleading and dismissive claim because while humans are animals science shows we are not really behaving like other animals.