Essential Reads

Is an Unnamed Cow Less Sentient Than a Named Cow?

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on February 07, 2016 in Animal Emotions
An essay called "Is a Cow a ‘Who’ or a ‘Which?’" raises issues about the language we use to refer to nonhumans. Here I argue all animals are a "who" and words really matter.

Ravens Know They're Being Watched: Bird Brain Theory of Mind

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on February 05, 2016 in Animal Emotions
A new carefully conducted study shows ravens most likely understand what's going on in another raven's head and that they possess a theory mind.

Do Our Dogs Really Love Us More Than Our Cats Do?

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on February 03, 2016 in Animal Emotions
Has it really been proven that dogs love humans five times more than cats? Not quite, but there are some interesting trends that support this predictable suggestion.

Of Mice and Women: A Dark Side of Oxytocin and Conservation

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on January 27, 2016 in Animal Emotions
Studies of sex differences in responses to stress now focus on females. Usually data from animal studies are used for humans, but this information is important for the animals.

More Posts on Animal Behavior

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.

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.

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.

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?"

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.

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.

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.

"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.