Essential Reads

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.

Dogs, Cats, and Humans: Does 5X the Oxytocin = 5X the Love?

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.

Why Stress Is Both Good and Bad

What are the pros and cons of stress and how can we cope with feeling stressed out?

More Posts on Animal Behavior

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.

A Point of Reference: Weight and the Concept of Set Point

Considering all the food our bodies process throughout our lifetime, our weight remains, for the most part, within a fairly constant range. In other words, our bodies tend to “defend” that weight, especially after weight loss, and that is why it is so difficult for us to maintain our weight at a lower level. Is there a set point for weight?

Wolves and Baboons in Ethiopia Form Unlikely Friendships

Critically rare and endangered Ethiopian wolves show an increase in capturing rodents when foraging within a gelada baboon herd. Discovering these surprising unlikely relationships in the wild show that there is still much to learn about the magnificent animals with whom we share our wondrous planet.

Effectiveness of Rewards and Punishments in Dog Training

Data shows that using punishment as part of dog training, or to control unwanted behaviors, is not particularly effective, and may actually trigger some behavioral problems.

A Judge's Ignorance on Sexual Assault Issues?

By Ana Nogales on June 18, 2015 Family Secrets
Under no circumstance is a minor capable of consenting to sex.

New Zealand Declares Animals to be Sentient, Bans Testing

In an unprecedented move, New Zealand declares nonhuman animals to be sentient beings and makes animal testing illegal. This new legislation is totally consistent with what we already have known about the cognitive and emotional lives of animals and is precedent setting. U. S. legislation and guidelines do not keep up with the science of animal emotions and sentience.

Dogtology: A New Book About Our Obsession With Dogs

A new book called "Dogtology" explores what the author calls our dog-centric "religion." It's a very interesting read about these amazing animals, however, there are places where dogs are misrepresented as displaying "unconditional acceptance" and living in the moment. Nonetheless, "Dogtology" will make you think deeply about why so many are taken with their furry friends.

Dogs Snub Mean People and Apes Like Positive Spin

New research shows dogs are rather picky and apes prefer positive framing. In the first study, a team of Japanese researchers discovered that dogs will snub people who are mean to their owners, and in the second we learned that, like humans, nonhuman great apes, especially males, are susceptible to positive spin.

Separation Anxiety: The Great Imitator, Part 2

In blog #2 of this series Dr. Stepita discusses the importance of ruling confinement anxiety and barrier frustration. The treatment for these separation anxiety imitators could lead to a quick fix of the problem behaviors.

Pigs are Intelligent, Emotional, and Cognitively Complex

A recent review of research on pigs shows they are complex sentient beings. Among the many extremely interesting and fascinating findings is the discovery that "not only can pigs connect with the emotions of other pigs, but they can also do so with pigs who are responding emotionally in anticipation of future events." Pigs also have unique personalities and love to play.

Good News for Dogs and Cats, Tragic News for Coyote Killers

Retired research dogs and cats must now be offered for adoption in Nevada and two men working for Wildlife Services tragically die trying to kill coyotes from an airplane.

The Kindness of Dogs: New Book Explains Why Cesar's Gotta Go

"The Secret History of Kindness: Learning From How Dogs Learn" by Melissa Pierson extols behaviorism and positive reinforcement in training dogs. This wide-ranging book provides a detailed history of B. F. Skinner's behaviorism -- where people get it right and many get it wrong -- and how being kind to dogs and other animals is the only way to teach them to live with us.

The Compassionate Equestrian: Loving Horses with Heart

Dr. Allen Schoen and Susan Gordon's new book called "The Compassionate Equestrian: 25 Principles to Live by When Caring for and Working with Horses" is a wonderful read. These most amazing equine beings are found worldwide in environments ranging from those in which they're cherished and loved to those in which they're wantonly abused. This book could be a game-changer.

Dogs Can Predict Human Personality Traits

The symbiotic relationship between dogs and their owners has developed to the point where dogs can predict personality traits.

Hippo Love

With a reputation for aggressiveness, the hippopotamus is not usually thought of as "loving." But in a new book, "A Hippo Love Story," a more nuanced picture is revealed about these freshwater giants. The key to love, it seems, is good communication.

The Ratio of Love

The sex ratio influences men's mating and parenting effort. In a mating market, more men can mean more stable relationships and child-rearing. Yet this may be surprising when we also imagine men's lives in male-dominated social niches, like frontier mining towns, where plenty of gambling, prostitution and gun-toting can prevail.

Lions and Tigers and Bears, No More

By Mark Derr on June 05, 2015 Dog's Best Friend
A majority of the world's large carnivores and herbivores face extinction if more is not done to save them from ourselves.

Pain, Fear, and Death Documented at Monkey Breeding Facility

Videos and pictures documenting the horrific and unspeakable abuse of monkeys have generated a USDA inspection for violations at a primate breeding facility. If you have the stomach for it, you can see a video and some photos online. You can do something about it by filing a petition that already has more than 15,000 signatures. These monkeys really need your support.

Is There a Relationship between Playfulness and Trainability

Recent data leads to the conclusion that if you test a puppy's eagerness to play with a person you may actually be testing its trainability as well.

Separation Anxiety: The Great Imitator, Part 1

Did you know that behaviors we commonly think of as being diagnostic for separation anxiety (destruction, urination/defecation inside, vocalization) can actually be signs of other behavior problems? In this series of blogs, Dr. Stepita will explore these causes as the problem is unlikely to be managed or resolved without knowing the root cause of your dog's behavior.

Regret And Worry: A User’s Guide

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on May 31, 2015 Ambigamy
Regret and worry have their place. Here's some background on them, helpful to keeping them in their place.

Living With My Dog Is Like.....

Dogs with behavioral issues need help too!

New York Blood Center Leaves Chimps to Die of Starvation

An institution that conducted experiments on approximately 200 chimpanzees and made a commitment to provide them with lifelong care has abandoned the ones who are still alive, leaving them to die of starvation. Dr. Brian Hare, an anthropologist and primatologist at Duke University notes, “Never, ever have I seen anything even remotely as disgusting as this.”

When Your Dog Dies

We all suffer losses, but the death of the family dog is clearly one of the most painful we endure. Our attachment to our canine friends trumps many of our human relationships. It's not that people are less valuable or meaningful to us, but where else do we find such unconditional love, loyalty, happiness in the simplest of pleasures and rarely a complaint?

Play, Primates, Jealousy, Work, and Losing Deliberately

Gorillas like to play games and when they do, they sometimes lose deliberately. Why? “Self-handicapping” encourages their playmate to keep on with the game. Jealousy can be very like play—there are triangles, winners and losers, and feelings run high. This is very true of workplace jealousy. Does self-handicapping have a role to play in mitigating workplace jealousy?

Sounding Off About High-Volume Friends

How to reclaim our personal quiet zones and restore peace. High-volume blusterers are often chronic—even if unknowing—offenders, and they are generally among our least favorite folks to encounter. Otherwise pleasant personalities become ones we avoid. The psychology of behavioral shaping offers a polite way to turn down the volume.

Jordan Dog: Dismembered, Abandoned, and Rehabilitated

A video of the rescue and rehabilitation of an abused and abandoned dog named Jordan will force you to question our conflicting relationships with other animals. I hate to say it, but you must watch this video and share it widely. The scientific field of anthrozoology is concerned with the study of human-animal relationships and this video is a must-see for all.

Un-Churched Chimps

Research on monkeys and chimpanzees suggests that moral sensibilities evolved long before religious sensibilities.