Essential Reads

Empathic Rats Save Drowning Pals Rather than Eat Chocolate

Research again shows rats display empathy so why do we torture them in labs?

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

Recent Posts on Animal Behavior

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.

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.