Essential Reads

Stop the Presses! Dog Owners Are Happier

New data looks at the impact that dog or cat ownership has on the mental well-being, happiness, and life satisfaction of people.

When Are Puppies at Their Cutest?

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on July 26, 2016 in Animals and Us
Most dogs on Earth die before they are three months old. New research shows how being cute can save a puppy from an early death.

No Horsing Around About the Human-Equine Bond

For millennia, horses have worked hard for humans, and today they serve as the ultimate therapists. Here's a look at the important roles horses play in the human experience.

How People Perceive Dogs With Docked Tails and Cropped Ears

New data shows that seeing a dog with a docked tail and cropped ears may cause people to believe that the dog is aggressive and its owner might be aggressive as well.

More Posts on Animal Behavior

Advice for the Animal Rights Movement Part 2

By Gordon Hodson Ph.D. on November 13, 2015 in Without Prejudice
In a previous column I gave some advice, from a psychological point of view, on how animal rights advocates can more effectively communicate their message. Here I follow up with some additional comments.

Central Asia Is Proposed as Birthplace of Dogs

By Mark Derr on November 12, 2015 in Dog's Best Friend
A new genetic study of village dogs--free-ranging dogs--points to Central Asia as the most likely place where dogs originated.

Are Silent Dog Whistles Useful?

By Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C. on November 12, 2015 in Canine Corner
There are many myths and misunderstandings about how silent dog whistles can be used to control canine behavior.

Risk Analysis of Behavior Problems: Owner Factors (4)

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 owner factors that can affect this decision.

Why Is Cat Humor so Appealing?

By Mark Peters on November 10, 2015 in Laughing Stock
I talk to Angie Bailey about what makes cat humor funny.

SeaWorld San Diego to End Killer Whale Shows for New Image

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on November 09, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Next year SeaWorld San Diego says it will replace killer whale shows with a new more natural conservation oriented experience and will partner with a San Diego hotel owner and realtor "to build a resort on underdeveloped areas of the SeaWorld San Diego park."

Does Having a Pet Make You More Attractive?

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on November 09, 2015 in Animals and Us
Research on members of the Internet dating site Match.com reveals the surprising importance dogs and cats can play in modern romance.

The Conservation Charade: Elephants Do Not Belong in Zoos

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on November 07, 2015 in Animal Emotions
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) recently made public a permit request for the import of 18 wild-caught young elephants from Swaziland to the Dallas Zoo in Texas, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo in Nebraska, and Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas. Eighty scientists, conservationists, and professionals from around the world have issued a statement opposing this plan.

Beastly Morality: New Book Shows Animals Are Moral Beings

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on November 06, 2015 in Animal Emotions
A new book edited by Emory University professor Dr. Jonathan Crane called "Beastly Morality: Animals as Ethical Agents" offers the latest information about animal cognition, emotions, and morality and shows that many different nonhuman animals are moral beings who can process ideas of good and bad and think seriously about virtue.

Homo Professoris, Part VI

By Barry X. Kuhle Ph.D. on November 05, 2015 in Evolutionary Entertainment
Please, folks: raise your children to be bold and brave. Not victim-mongering whiny little wussies.

New Zealand Kids Kill Possums for Fun and Games

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on November 05, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Youngsters in a rural New Zealand school joyfully trap and kill possums. According to their principal, “They’re country kids, so they loved dealing with dead possums!" This is a most disturbing example of "teach the children wrong" and also very disturbing because of the well known link between violence toward nonhuman animals and violence toward humans.

Can Living With a Dog Prevent Asthma in Kids?

By Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C. on November 03, 2015 in Canine Corner
A study shows that kids exposed to dogs in the first year of their life may be protected from asthma and allergies later on.

Florida's Brutal Black Bear Massacre: A Bloody Update

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on October 27, 2015 in Animal Emotions
The sanctioned killing of black bears in Florida is a regrettable bloodbath that defies anything that comes close to even the loosest definitions of compassion. It is unregulated and blatantly ignores public opinion and solid science.

Fortress of Fear: Why We Sometimes Sabotage Opportunity

By Seth Slater M.F.A. on October 26, 2015 in The Dolphin Divide
Is psychic re-wiring worth the effort after the damage is done? When our experiences teach us to fear, opportunity-sabotaging anxiety, isolation, and distemper can result. The causes of fear are numerous and wide-ranging. Is turning the tide with new behavioral history worth pursuing?

Pound for Pound: Shelter Dogs Love a Woman Back to Life

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on October 25, 2015 in Animal Emotions
A new book by Shannon Kopp, "Pound for Pound: A Story of One Woman's Recovery and the Shelter Dogs Who Loved Her Back to Life," is an inspirational gem.

Risk Analysis of Behavior Problems: Environmental Factors 3

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 environmental factors that can affect this decision.

Howler Monkeys Have a Deep Voice or Big Balls But Not Both

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on October 22, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Howler monkeys have low sexy calls or big balls, but not both. While this research "has no practical application to human mate choice … some research has suggested that men with deep voices have more sex partners, and therefore more opportunities to reproduce. But another study showed lower sperm quality in deeper-voiced men." Oh wouldn't it be nice if … or would it?

Are Killers Ordinary Men?

By Theodore Dalrymple M.D. on October 22, 2015 in Psychiatric Disorder
The staff of a French abattoir has been filmed behaving with almost incredible callousness. Were they enjoying themselves, only obeying orders, or acting in spite of themselves?

Do Dog Barks Signal Emotional Information to Humans?

Dog barks signal a dog's emotional state and data suggests that even without training humans can read this information.

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

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on October 18, 2015 in 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 in 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 in 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 in 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 in 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

By Eric Haseltine Ph.D. on October 07, 2015 in Long Fuse, Big Bang
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

By Jennifer Arnold on October 06, 2015 in Through a Dog’s Eyes
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.