Essential Reads

Captive Killer Whales Die Much Younger than Wild Orcas

A new study shows captive killer whales don't live as long as wild relatives

Does Emotional Attachment to an Owner Change in Older Dogs?

Research shows that older dogs appear to be less emotionally secure.

Judge Recognizes Two Chimpanzees as Legal Persons: A First

Two chimpanzees, Hercules and Leo, are determined to be persons in NY court

Ivan Denisovich vs Ants

Both More or Less Social

Recent Posts on Animal Behavior

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.

Why Sex Can't Always Be Stellar

By Seth Slater M.F.A. on December 12, 2014 in The Dolphin Divide
How hit-and-miss intimacy keeps us strongly connected. Our best efforts in the bedroom don’t always produce the fireworks we’d like. Why isn’t the love we take always equal to the love we make?

The Birds and the Bees

By David Ludden Ph.D. on December 12, 2014 in Talking Apes
The whole point to the game of life is getting your genes into the next generation. This is what animal communication is all about.

Insufficient Childhood Sleep And Teenage Overweight

By Dennis Rosen M.D. on December 12, 2014 in Sleeping Angels
A new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics on December 11th 2014 found a strong connection between insufficient sleep in early childhood and overweight in adolescence.

Modern Marriage

By Mark O'Connell L.C.S.W. on December 11, 2014 in Quite Queerly
We can use the imagination and the will to adapt that allowed us to claim meaningful partnerships in the face of adversity--and against all odds--to remain awake, alive, and engaged with our spouses, well beyond our wedding days.

Pope Francis Says That All Dogs Go to Heaven

By Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C. on December 10, 2014 in Canine Corner
Pope Francis contradicts the long standing Catholic Church catechism by claiming that animals have souls and can enter Paradise.

A Gene for Language?

By David Ludden Ph.D. on December 10, 2014 in Talking Apes
Recursion is one of the key characteristics distinguishing human languages from animal communication systems. But a genetic mutation that turned human brains into recursion machines is an unlikely explanation for how language evolved.

Do Dogs Get the Flu and Can They Pass It on to You?

By Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C. on December 09, 2014 in Canine Corner
A highly contagious dog flu first appeared in 2004. Many people worry about catching flu from their pet. Are those concerns valid?

Smarty Plants: Research Shows they Think, Feel, and Learn

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on December 09, 2014 in Animal Emotions
An essay in New Scientist called "Root Intelligence" is a fascinating read. Research shows that plants can think, feel, and learn, and that "a plant's awareness of its environment is often keener than an animal's precisely because plants cannot flee from danger and so must sense and adapt to it." Plants also see light and have a sense of smell, taste, touch, and hearing.

Placebo Effect in Dogs

By Jann Gumbiner Ph.D. on December 08, 2014 in The Teenage Mind
Placebos have been found to reduce barking, scratching, and crying when dogs are separated from their owners.

The Yellow Dog Project

By Jessica Pierce Ph.D. on December 08, 2014 in All Dogs Go to Heaven
The Yellow Dog Project is an innovative global movement to identify and protect dogs who need their personal space respected. If widely understood as a symbol of “proceed with caution,” yellow ribbons could help dogs and their guardians interact safely with their community and could help prevent uncomfortable or dangerous encounters.

The Freedom to Change Your Experience of the Holidays

By Hal Shorey Ph.D. on December 08, 2014 in The Freedom to Change
Although it should be a time of joy and celebration, many of us look toward the holidays with a sense of foreboding. The good news is that once you grasp some basic principles, you can implement these twelve suggested strategies for making the most of your time with family and friends across the holiday season.

Improve How You Feel by Changing Your Attention

By Jennice Vilhauer Ph.D. on December 06, 2014 in Living Forward
You can learn to control painful emotions through the simple but highly significant process of learning to redirect your attention.

Do Animals Play for the Hell of It? Watch This Fox

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on December 05, 2014 in Animal Emotions
Watch this video of two red foxes discovering a trampoline. One chooses to play on the trampoline while the other is cautious and never goes onto it. The lessons offered in this video are that animals do play for fun and that personality differences can be displayed, ranging from being exploratory and playful to being very curious and cautious. I really enjoyed it.

Calorie Labels Are Dieting by Another Name

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on December 05, 2014 in The Human Beast
If we measure calories of fast food, can we reduce the prevalence of obesity? No, because the underlying cause of obesity has surprisingly little to do with diet. Helping people to eat less through food labeling is well intentioned but ignores the science of weight gain.

How Did Nature Create Involved Human Fathers?

By Peter B. Gray Ph.D. on December 04, 2014 in The Evolving Father
By what processes are human fathers fashioned? Chance mutations? Sophisticated "evo-devo" processes modeled by Andreas Wagner in his new book, "Arrival of the Fittest"? By developmental plasticity and the "Baldwin effect"? Let's think about this.

Dogs Hear Word Meanings and Emotions Differently

By Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C. on December 03, 2014 in Canine Corner
The dog's brain is organized to process the meaningful and emotional aspects of speech in a way that is remarkably similar to the human brain.

Cesar Millan Is Alive and Well

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on December 03, 2014 in Animal Emotions
Many of my readers have contacted me to tell me that Cesar Millan has died. The purpose of this short post, and I can think of no other way to get out this message, is that I am pleased to let you know that this is a hoax.

Mindfulness Without Therapy

By Jenni Ogden Ph.D. on December 03, 2014 in Trouble in Mind
Every one of us is an expert in the arts of Mindfulness, Mind Wandering and Time Travel. In this first of three posts I muse about ways to experience mindfulness without therapy, yoga or relaxation exercises, and whether non-human animals demonstrate mindfulness.

Killing 890 Wolves to Learn About Them: Something's Wrong

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on December 02, 2014 in Animal Emotions
An "experimental" study performed under the guise of conservation involved killing 890 Canadian wolves (and other animals) using aerial gunning, trapping, and strychnine poisoning. This research and publication represents the moral failure of the Alberta government, participating universities, the Canadian Journal of Zoology, and the scientists; and it didn't work.