Essential Reads

Cheats and Deceits: Trickery and Deception Are Widespread

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on May 02, 2016 in Animal Emotions
An excellent new book explains how animals and plants exploit and mislead.

Why Do Animal Tragedies Go Viral?

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on April 29, 2016 in Animals and Us
A new study investigates why the death of Cecil the Lion became an instant world-wide internet sensation.

"Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?"

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on April 26, 2016 in Animal Emotions
A new and important book by primatologist Frans de Waal considers the critical questions and data that center on the cognitive lives of a wide variety of nonhuman animals.
Photo courtesy of Dietrich Stout and Emory University

Tool Use and the Emergence of Language

By Laura Otis Ph.D. on April 24, 2016 in Rethinking Thought
Motor and language skills may seem distinct, but in human brains they are closely related.

More Posts on Animal Behavior

The Psychology and Thrill of Trophy Hunting: Is it Criminal?

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on October 18, 2015 Animal Emotions
Trophy hunting is gratuitous violence that can justifiably be called murder. The failure to use the word “murder” for nonhumans is a view that ignores who other animals truly are — their cognitive and emotional lives and capacities — based on detailed empirical research.

Florida Bear Hunt Ignores Conservation Psychology & Science

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on October 15, 2015 Animal Emotions
Florida's ill-planned slaughter of black bears fails to consider public opinion, solid science, and compassionate conservation. Indeed, Florida's Black Bear Management Plan, released at the time of delisting, explicitly eschewed hunting and called for the enhancement of bear habitats. The bear hunt will serve as an exemplary case study of why it shouldn't have been done.

Wanted: A Home

By Frances Kuffel on October 14, 2015 What Fat Women Want
A few remarks against rental housing regulations.

Can Dogs Learn by Watching Television?

With the advent of Dog TV should we consider the possibility of "educational video programs" aimed directly at teaching dogs to respond to basic obedience commands?

Sexually Transmitted Diseases: An Evolutionary View

By Robert D. Martin Ph.D. on October 12, 2015 How We Do It
Sexually transmitted diseases are unlikely to arise with monogamous mating. Yet several human venereal diseases, notably syphilis, have sometimes spread epidemically. Promiscuous mating in nonhuman primates is correlated with higher levels of white blood cells and faster evolution of immunity genes connected with defences against pathogens. So where do humans fit in?

Unnecessary Boulder Bear Killing Challenges Anthrozoology

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on October 09, 2015 Animal Emotions
A mother bear was killed in Boulder, Colorado. The original headline read "Boulder bear No. 317 euthanized; 2 cubs also captured," but it was later cleaned up to read "Boulder bear No. 317 killed; 2 cubs also captured." Of course, she wasn't euthanized. Those involved in the killing claim it "sucked" and wonder if it was fair. Indeed, they could have stopped the killing.

Risk Analysis of Behavior Problems: Animal Factors, 2

Behavioral problems often elicit high emotions in owners. Owners often have been dealing with these problems for a long time and, for reasons that are real for them, now feel that they have an emergency. In this blog post we will address animal factors that can affect this decision.

Your Dog is Smarter Than You Are

Seriously. For real. No kidding!

Are Pets Really Family?

We should be cautious about using the phrase “pets are family” as an endorsement of the way companion animals are treated, but should use the language of family very mindfully.

Is Your Dog Being Punished by Rewards

The negatives of positive dog training.

Can Dogs Learn Word Meanings by Just Watching and Listening?

Both dogs and human children learn language through simple observation — without the need for rewards for each word they learn.

A Decent Minimum of Care for Companion Animals

The increasing range of options for caregivers of companion animals should be celebrated. And it should also remind us that although there can be too much of a good thing, there can also be too little. Far too many pets are denied basic care like dental hygeine, antibiotics, and treatment for pain.

Fish Show Coordinated Vigilance and Watch Each Other's Backs

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on October 06, 2015 Animal Emotions
A new study shows fish display coordinated reciprocity providing safety for foraging partners; they watch one another's back. The results add to the database showing fish are much smarter than most people assume, and can rightfully be included as members of the sentience club. One researcher notes, "This may also require a shift in how we study and ethically treat fishes."

Is Your Dog an "Upper" or a "Downer" and What It Means

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on October 06, 2015 Animal Emotions
It's wrong to assume dogs are always "up" and ready to bound around without a care in the world. A study using non-invasive methods shows there are marked individual differences in personality among dogs concerning whether they're "glass half empty" or "glass half full" bowsers, just like humans. This information is directly linked to questions about their well-being.

Does a Dog's Body Language Tell Us How Much He Has Learned?

You can read a dog's body language — specifically his mouth, eyes, ear position, and tail carriage and wagging — to learn whether he has learned an obedience task well.

What Partners Need to Understand About Cooperation

By Jennifer Verdolin Ph.D. on September 30, 2015 Wild Connections
Are you as good at cooperating in your relationship as you think you are? A few activities can reveal how well you and your partner work together.

Fear the Walking Dead: Can Brain Parasites Make Us Zombies?

By Joe Pierre M.D. on September 28, 2015 Psych Unseen
Can brain infections really turn us into zombies? Research with the human brain parasite Toxoplasma gondii suggests that yes, maybe they can.

Naropa University vs. Prairie Dogs: Just Leave Them Be

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on September 28, 2015 Animal Emotions
Boulder's contemplative Naropa University, founded by Chögyam Trungpa, should not allow "problem" prairie dogs to be killed. Killing these family-living, highly social sentient beings, is radically dispassionate and utterly sickening. I wonder what Chögyam Trungpa would feel if he knew Naropa turned into a killing field. Let's hope and pray it does not.

Why You Don't Need to Fear Rejection

By Jennifer Verdolin Ph.D. on September 27, 2015 Wild Connections
Fear of rejection can be a major stumbling block for some when it comes to dating but does little to protect you. Rather than personalizing and internalizing this experience, a shift in perspective can help you deal with it better the next time around.

Getting a Leg Up on Optimism

By Seth Slater M.F.A. on September 24, 2015 The Dolphin Divide
How positive associations enable learning. None of us can learn without relationships. It turns out that variety and fun provide the spice that keeps both going strong.

The Life Expectancy of 165 Breeds of Dogs

We all want to know how long our dogs will live. Here is the first large-scale data collection showing the expected lifespan of almost all of the popular dog registered breeds. The data is given on a breed by breed basis.

Risk Analysis of Behavior Problems: Overview Part 1

Behavioral problems often elicit high emotions in owners. Owners often have been dealing with these problems for a long time and, for reasons that are real for them, now feel that they have an emergency. This is the first of four posts on factors playing a role in their decision.

My Old Dog: Rescued Seniors Show that Old Dogs Rock

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on September 21, 2015 Animal Emotions
A new book called "My Old Dog" will move you to tears of joy because old dogs rock. However, senior dogs over seven are often the highest-risk group at shelters. In a most inspirational book laden with incredible photos of senior canines, we learn that adopting a senior can be really be more rewarding than choosing a younger dog. The teaser is of Fiona in her wheelbarrow.

You Are Not Your Body

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on September 21, 2015 Ambigamy
If the history of the universe were shrunk to one year, life would have started today, September 21. Here's what happened and how to make sense of what you are as a result.

Are You a Man or a Mouse?

“Are you a man or a mouse?” This exhortation has been a way that men have encouraged other men, especially younger ones, to be brave, not to run away but rather to take things up to the next level. However, considering what has happened to men these days, I think the expression can be considered in a whole new way. Especially because mice are really pretty brave.

Where Our Brain Ends and Our Mind Begins

Although monkeys and moon bears surely differ, I am struck far more by their likenesses.

Why Animals Need Psychology

By G.A. Bradshaw PhD, PhD on September 18, 2015 Bear in Mind
The study of animal behavior, ethology, alone is not sufficient to the task given scientific understanding of animal sentience.

Who Apes Whom? Frans de Waal Notes We're Not All That Unique

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on September 17, 2015 Animal Emotions
In a recent and outstanding essay in the New York Times titled "Who Apes Whom?" world renowned primatologist Frans de Waal clearly shows that among animals, humans are basically one of the gang, except for our capacity for language. I highly recommend this essay for readers of all ages as a solid review of what we know about other animals and where we fit into the scene.

Excessive Barking Pt. II: How Do I Stop My Dog From Barking?

Once you know why your dog is barking excessively (see our earlier posts), you can look for some good solutions.

13 Things Mentally Strong Dogs Don't Do—Learn From Them

Does your dog give up easily? Is your dog a loser... or is he or she mentally strong?