Essential Reads

Do Dogs Have Empathy for Human Stress and Discomfort?

Both dogs and people produce stress hormones when they hear a baby cry.

Makings of a Child

Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) expand the basis of a baby.

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.

Recent Posts on Animal Behavior

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.

84% of Vegetarians and Vegans Return to Meat. Why?

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on December 02, 2014 in Animals and Us
I was shocked when my long-time vegetarian daughter asked me for suggestions about what types of meat she might enjoy. I should not have been surprised. According to new research, the vast majority of vegetarians and even vegans eventually return to meat-eating. Here are the implications for the animal rights movement.

The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins: We Are Not Alone

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on December 02, 2014 in Animal Emotions
A new book called "The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins" by renowned researchers Hal Whitehead and Luke Rendall is a must read. It is perfect for advanced undergraduate and graduate courses and also for a broad audience that is interested not only in whales, dolphins, and other cetaceans, but also in other animals in which culture is clearly and amply present.

It Makes No Sense to Punish a Fearful Dog

Fear and anxiety are at the root of many dog behavior problems. Fearful dogs lack confidence and are already stressed, and punishing them for manifesting those things will not make them better. In this blog Dr. Ilana Reisner explains how fear can be changed by associating the scary stimulus with food and reinforcing alternative behaviors.

Of Vultures and Pain Killers

A colleague who is visiting our Poison Control Center from Europe recently asked me if I knew anything about vultures and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, specifically diclofenac. The near extinction of the dominant species of vulture in the Indian subcontinent is linked to this pharmaceutical...

Bonding (Physically) With Same-Sex Individuals

By Jesse Marczyk on November 30, 2014 in Pop Psych
A new papers suggests that homoerotic behavior functions to bond same-sex friends closer together. I remain skeptical.

Cephalopods: The Fascinating Lives of Sensitive Beings

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on November 29, 2014 in Animal Emotions
A new book summarizes what's known about the fascinating lives of cephalopods, including octopus and cuttlefish. We learn, for example, that who some call the "two-brained" octopus engage in exploration and object play, have different personalities, demonstrate complex foraging strategies, show dynamic forms of camouflage, and may have simple forms of consciousness.

The Whites of Your Eyes Convey Subconscious Truths

By Christopher Bergland on November 27, 2014 in The Athlete's Way
A new study has found that our eye whites communicate important social cues that are key to our bonding and survival at a conscious and unconscious level,

Like Real-estate, Feline House Soiling Is All About Location

Spite and anger are not the reasons a cat will no longer use their litter box.

Your Guilty Conscience's Secret Message

By Seth Slater M.F.A. on November 25, 2014 in The Dolphin Divide
What guilt might be saying about your friendships. When our consciences kick up a guilt-ridden fuss, it is often in an effort to preserve something that is most precious to us, namely friendship. Feelings of guilt could mean we owe someone – big time.

An Easy Way to Prevent Food Aggression in Dogs

By Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C. on November 25, 2014 in Canine Corner
Food aggression or food bowl guarding is learned while a puppy is still in its litter, however it is easily prevented.

Do Your Hobby at Work

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on November 25, 2014 in How To Do Life
More often than you might think, you can incorporate your hobby into your job.

Big-Balled Males Kill Infants More than the Less Endowed

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on November 24, 2014 in Animal Emotions
Large testicles are associated with males of a given species killing youngsters. Big-balled males kill infants more than the less endowed. A recent essay in New Scientist magazine begins, "GREAT balls of fury. Large testicles could be a giveaway sign that the males of a species are given to killing their rivals' offspring." They kill so that they can then reproduce.

Did Time Stop For You?

By Judith Coche Ph.D., ABPP on November 23, 2014 in No Ordinary Life
Join me as I visit with Maureen and her infant, Fawn, whose lives illustrate the power of fully engaging with each other and show us the core of living a flourishing life.

Interviews with My Intellectual Idols: Part III

This installment focuses on my January 2014 interview with the world’s most decorated living scientist, Harvard University’s Edward O. Wilson. Among hundreds of other accolades, Ed is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-fiction and recipient of the Crafoord Prize, biology’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

New Psych Test Opens Moral Can of Worms

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on November 20, 2014 in Ambigamy
Does a young beauty have more in common with her older crone self or with another young beauty? Either way you answer it, one might question your morality.

Ward Family Questions Raise Issues for Us All

The death of sprint car driver Kevin Ward Jr. sparked a heated national conversation over who was at fault. Had NASCAR star Tony Stewart done enough to avoid hitting Ward? Had Ward written his own death sentence by exiting the car?

"Animal Weapons" and "Why Life Matters," Two Excellent Books

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on November 20, 2014 in Animal Emotions
Two new books deserve a wide readership. In "Animal Weapons" researcher Douglas Emlen concludes, "Weapons of mass destruction change the stakes … We're not likely to survive another arms race." In "Why Life Matters" Michael Tobias and Jane Gray Morrison provide a global view of what numerous people are doing to keep diverse ecosystems and all animals alive and thriving.

Into the Virtual Wild

Lions, rhinos, giraffes--all the big mammals of the African savanna mesmerize the imagination, even as humans drive them into extinction. But technology might help children connect virtually, while teaching about animal conservation and habitat protection. A "wild animal app" tries to do just that.

Do Dogs Grieve Over a Lost Loved One?

By Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C. on November 18, 2014 in Canine Corner
Images of dogs mourning over the death of someone dear to them are common in fine art and in photos on the Internet. Although behavioral scientists agree that these dogs are showing great sorrow and sadness they debate as to whether the emotion the dogs are feeling is really grief.

Lucky Thirteen (For Cats, Anyhow)

By John Bradshaw Ph.D. on November 17, 2014 in Pets and Their People
The sequencing of the feline genome continues to shed light on the domestication of the cat, which may now be attributed to changes in as few as 13 genes.

Does Animal-Assisted Therapy Really Work?

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on November 17, 2014 in Animals and Us
Can interacting with dogs or horses help treat mental and physical illnesses? I recently reviewed the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of animal assisted therapies. The good news is that the vast majority of studies have reported that animal therapy works. The bad news is that...

The Last Great Wild Places: Rewilding Through Photographs

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on November 16, 2014 in Animal Emotions
A new book by world renowned photographer Thomas Mangelsen called "The Last Great Wild Places" is a most welcomed volume of awe-inspiring photographs and a reminder of just how influential we have been in destroying landscapes globally. It surely will serve to rewild ourselves and also can be a valuable lesson in anthrozoology, the study of human-animal relationships.

The Dominance Down

You don’t have to dominate your dog to train him.