Essential Reads

Peter Singer Argues for "Effective Altruism" in His New Book

"The Most Good You Can Do" is a very thoughtful book about charitable giving.

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

Evidence shows that the personalities of dog versus cat lovers are different.

Scalding Live Chickens Is an Accepted Brutal Business Model

Nicholas Kristof's New York Times "To Kill a Chicken" is a must read

A Landmark Case for the Legal Rights of Dogs?

The legal rights of dogs may have been changed by a trial for cat-slaughter.

Recent Posts on Animal Behavior

5 Ancient Guidelines We Should Follow Today

Our paleolithic ancestors probably didn't make New Year's resolutions - but if they did, these resolutions would have been influenced by their natural, pre-agrarian lifestyles. Perhaps for 2015, by making resolutions that consider our ancestral past, we can make resolutions that (a) are manageable and that (b) help us achieve evolutionarily appropriate outcomes.

Let's Make Compassion and Rewilding All the Rage in 2015

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on December 28, 2014 in Animal Emotions
An "old" book, two new books, and a growing international movement all call for compassion and rewilding revolutions. It's about time to make compassion rock, as a young student once told me, so let's all do something as a unified community to foster global compassion for all animals, human and nonhuman, and their homes. And, then, let's be creative and do even more.

Saving the Large Carnivores

By Mark Derr on December 28, 2014 in Dog's Best Friend
Female European brown bear in Dynaric Mountains, Slovenia. Copyright Miha Krofel. Courtesy of Science magazine.

Sandra Orangutan and Personhood: An Essential Clarification

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on December 24, 2014 in Animal Emotions
Worldwide media about granting personhood and rights to Sandra Orangutan needs closer scrutiny. Here, attorney Steven Wise, who heads the Nonhuman Rights Project, provides an essential clarification.

A Different Perspective on the Human-Animal Bond

We often assume we understand our pets, but make mistakes as we have different languages. Language lets humans & animals communicate perceptions/emotions. Understanding these perceptions/emotions & the language that allows their expression is essential to developing empathic behavior towards other individuals & therefore to guaranteeing a peaceful & respectful coexistence.

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."

The Miracle of Talking Dogs

By Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C. on December 22, 2014 in Canine Corner
According to legend dogs gain the power of speech at midnight on Christmas Eve and one man recalls an attempt to test the truth of this folktale

Sandra Orangutan Declared a Person With a Right to Freedom

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on December 22, 2014 in Animal Emotions
An Argentine court has ruled that the Buenos Aires zoo has to release Sandra, an orangutan, to a sanctuary, because that she has suffered "unjustified confinement of an animal with proven cognitive ability" and "should be recognized as a person with a right to freedom." Let's hope this decision paves the way for future success for many other animals in other countries.

Do Cows Moo "Get me the Hell out of Here" on Factory Farms?

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on December 21, 2014 in Animal Emotions
New research on "cow talk" shows that mothers and young share important messages using various types of moos. I hope this landmark research will be used to learn more about what cows and other food animals are saying and feeling as they're "processed" on the way to human forks, knives, spoons, and plates. This is not a happy time for them nor for their family or friends.

Lassie: Stay Where You Are, You’ll be Fine.

By Clive Wynne Ph.D. on December 21, 2014 in Dogs and Their People
Lassie Come-Home is one of the most pervasive children’s stories about dogs. However, it tells us more about what we want for dogs than what they really desire. Fortunately for those striving to re-home adult dogs, dogs do not pine indefinitely for lost human families.

Empty Incubation

By G.A. Bradshaw Ph.D., Ph.D. on December 20, 2014 in Bear in Mind
Denied their native heritage, the life of captive-bred parrots reflect their colonizers' imprisoning mentality and anguished search for the bright vitality of love.

Did Pope Francis Open the Pearly Gates to Other Animals?

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on December 20, 2014 in Animal Emotions
As noted in a wide array of press about Pope Francis' comments about animals and the afterlife, the pearly gates may be open to other animals. While it remains unclear as to how open they really are and how the Pope meant his comments to be interpreted and implemented, more open and much needed discussion is now on the table.

6 Best Holiday Gifts for Your Dog

By Jessica Pierce Ph.D. on December 19, 2014 in All Dogs Go to Heaven
Here are six gifts your dog will really appreciate

Giving Puppies as Gifts: What if They're "The Wrong Dog?"

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on December 19, 2014 in Animal Emotions
The ASPCA's advertisement "Puppies Are The World's Best Gifts" troubled me. I beg everyone who is thinking of giving a puppy or other animal to someone as a holiday or other type of gift really think it through. I worry that if indeed the animal is "the wrong animal," he or she will pay a huge price for the well-intentioned move that turns into a grievous mistake.

The Real Reasons Why We Groom

By Jennifer Verdolin Ph.D. on December 18, 2014 in Wild Connections
The Egyptians and Greeks were at the forefront of setting grooming trends, but is all this buffing, waxing, and mud just about beauty or could there be a practical and deeper biological explanation for some of the grooming practices we see in humans?

Five Questions That Reveal How Much You Care About Animals

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on December 18, 2014 in Animals and Us
Psychologists are turning to short scales to assess our attitudes and personality. We have developed several brief instruments to measure beliefs about the use of other species. You can take the 5-item Animal Attitude Scale here.

Why Dogs Eat Grass—a Myth Debunked

By Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C. on December 18, 2014 in Canine Corner
Neither upset stomach nor dietary needs can explain why dogs eat grass

Unearthing Ted Turner: "Last Stand" is a Fascinating Read

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on December 17, 2014 in Animal Emotions
Todd Wilkinson's book about Ted Turner called "Last Stand: Ted Turner’s Quest to Save a Troubled Planet" tells it like it is. I really enjoyed Mr. Wilkinson’s book and was fortunate to do an interview with him about it and this fascinating and enigmatic man. There's tons of information between the covers of "Last Stand" that will be of great interest to a broad audience.

On Killing Wolves: Should Only Trained Ethicists Weigh In?

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on December 17, 2014 in Animal Emotions
News about the massacre of 890 wolves in Canada by researchers has reached a global audience. Recently, one of the world's leading wolf experts wrote that only trained ethicists could reliably weigh in on the ethics of this "research" project. I disagree. Scientists are humans and we all come to the table with a point of view that should be openly discussed with civility.

Why is it So Hard to Buy Presents for Others?

By Donna Barstow on December 17, 2014 in Ink Blots Cartoons
And it helps if you know they won't complain, or return anything.

Musical Dogs: Moving Dogs From Home to Home can be Perilous

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on December 16, 2014 in Animal Emotions
An essay in the New York Times called "The Wrong Dog" raises many difficult questions about possible perils of rescuing and re-homing a dog. Living with a dog is a two-way street and assigning unilateral blame gets us nowhere and once again leaves the dog out in the cold. Playing "musical dogs" is bad for the dogs, as much research and common sense tell us.

What’s Wrong with “The Wrong Dog?”

By Mark Derr on December 16, 2014 in Dog's Best Friend
Our kelpie Harley had a brain tumor that caused seizures. They did not keep him from learning to dive to the bottom of the pool, but physical problems can often affect a dog's behavior, as they did his in other ways.

Talking Is Like Walking

By David Ludden Ph.D. on December 16, 2014 in Talking Apes
When we consider the parallels between walking and talking, it’s not surprising to find that many of the brain structures that control locomotion also get enlisted for speech.

Spiders, Minds, and Values

By Gregg Henriques on December 16, 2014 in Theory of Knowledge
This blog addresses the questions of whether spiders have minds and if they have moral value.

Of Penis Bones and Shamans

By Robert D. Martin Ph.D. on December 15, 2014 in How We Do It
It has been suggested that Adam's “rib” used to create Eve was in fact his penis bone. But hoofed mammals lack one, so how was it known that men had lost it? Carnivores have a penis bone, so dogs are a possible but unlikely source of knowledge. It turns out that bears (now extinct in much of the Middle East) were around, and their long penis bones figure in shamanic rites.

Dogs Don't Bite Out of the Blue

Dog bites are almost always provoked by something. The trigger may be subtle and missed, however, because dogs and people don’t speak the same language. In this blog Dr. Reisner explains how recognizing the signs of conflict or worry, and avoiding interactions that provoke them, can help to prevent defensive, but sometimes unpredictable, dog bites.

Clarify Three Misunderstandings about Acupuncture

In spite of increasing acceptance and varied use of acupuncture for treating pain and other ailments in the United States, there are still at least three misunderstandings about the practice and its mechanisms, which are typically found in some news reports about acupuncture (Sun, 2014a). Clarifying the misunderstandings also has implications for psychology.

Getting Shelter Dogs to Rescue Us: A Solution for Adoption

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on December 14, 2014 in Animal Emotions
A wonderful video shows how the "human walking program" organized by the Lost Dogs Home in Melbourne, Australia, helped 5000 shelter dogs get adopted. What I love about this program is how simple it is, and how people came to realize that by rescuing dogs in need, the dogs also rescued them. It's a win-win for both the dogs and the humans.

A Most Unlucky Rare Spider Meets and is Killed by Researcher

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on December 13, 2014 in Animal Emotions
Harvard researcher Piotr Naskrecki had the great fortune of meeting a large harmless spider and, most unfortunately for her, he killed her and "deposited" her in a collection. Recently 890 wolves were killed "in the name of science." When will the killing of animals stop? We need to give this question serious consideration because research and conservation are too bloody.

Violence as a Public Health Problem: A Most Violent Year

JC Chandor, the writer and director of A Most Violent Year saw how the school shooting in Newtown, CT, the town next to where he is raising his family, led to arming security guards. He was moved to cinematically paint the story of violence, using a lawless New York City in 1981 as his canvas, not seeing then what it had to do with public health.