Essential Reads

Helping Children Become Nurturers

Caring for others is a central mandate for adults as parents, caregivers to the elderly or helpers for those with disabilities. Can children grow into nurturers?

Are You Killing Your Dog With Sweetness?

The FDA warns that a sweetener used in sugarless gum, candy, baked goods, toothpaste, and some nut butters can be life-threatening to dogs.

What the Bible and “Nature” Say About Bathroom Laws

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on May 09, 2016 in Animals and Us
Is the North Carolina law legalizing discrimination against gays, lesbians, and transsexuals consistent with the Bible and the laws of nature?

Are You Ready to Give Another Animal the Best Life Possible?

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on May 09, 2016 in Animal Emotions
Are you prepared to give a companion animal the very best life they can have in your care? A new book called "Run, Spot, Run" clearly lays out the deep commitment it really takes.

More Posts on Animal Behavior

Living Closer to the Bone (Part 2)

By Michael Jawer on July 27, 2015 in Feeling Too Much
Evolutionary and behavioral science is giving credence to what Darwin observed and intuited 140 years ago. Studies indicate with a fair degree of certainty that animals have intense experiences comparable to human feelings of joy, anger, love, exuberance, delight, compassion, sorrow, and grief.

Animal "Euthanasia" Is Often Slaughter: Consider Kangaroos

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on July 27, 2015 in Animal Emotions
KIlling baby kangaroos by stamping on their head or decapitating to learn how to kill them "humanely" isn't euthanasia or mercy killing, it's slaughter. The study about which I write here refers to killing joeys who have lost, or will lose their mothers, as euthanasia, which it is not. Many people misuse the word "euthanasia" to sanitize what they are actually doing.

Cats: Owners Say Let Them be Predators and Kill Wildlife

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on July 25, 2015 in Animal Emotions
A new study conducted in the UK shows people are fine with free-running cats killing wildlife and that experts disagree with whether or not cats are having a significant ecological impact. One researcher claims that the evidence is "flimsy." Many people also say "let them be cats" and pay the price for being allowed to roam freely. Clearly there are many issues at hand.

Get Real About Teamwork

When a team mate is uncooperative, you may be tempted to ignore it to maintain the harmony. But if you do this all the time, fake cooperation gets confused with real cooperation. You shouldn't have to choose between team work and reality. Here's a way to have both.

How Charlie Got His Groove Back

By Scott G. Eberle Ph.D. on July 23, 2015 in Play in Mind
Charlie the Dog or The Dood—our undersized, but athletic Goldendoodle—spent his first four-and-a-half years enthralled by squirrels and hooked on the game of chasing them.

Your Brain and Health in Nature: Rewilding Is Good For Us

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on July 23, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Two new studies show how walking in nature changes the brain and how trees can make people healthier including cardio-metabolic conditions. For those whose frenetic lives leave little time for getting outside, this is good news. And, there don't appear to be any downsides to taking a short break and getting out in nature and rewilding our hearts.

Why Science Does Not Need Female or Male Mice

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on July 20, 2015 in Animal Emotions
An editorial called “Why Science Needs Female Mice” by the New York Times Editorial Review Board relies on a new study that concludes that research performed only on male mice are inadequate to understand human disease. Yet, numerous prominent researchers have concluded that studies on mice and other animals of either sex are inadequate to understand human disease.

Waists, Hips and the Sexy Hourglass Shape

By Robert D. Martin Ph.D. on July 20, 2015 in How We Do It
Various studies have recorded men’s attractiveness ratings of alternative representations of women’s body shape. Tests often involve simple features such as the ratio between waist and hip widths. The aim has been to identify features that evolved as signals of mate breeding potential. But could such simple indicators influence the complex process of human partner choice?

Living Closer to the Bone (Part 1)

By Michael Jawer on July 18, 2015 in Feeling Too Much
If you’re a pet owner, then you know that these animals have feelings. Other mammals may even be more aware of feelings that human beings are, because they possess a ‘primary’ form of consciousness: they live closer to the bone, so to speak, than we do.

Unnatural Sex

Unnatural sex is absolutely relative. One must ask "Unnatural to whom?"

Why You May Want to Be a Cat Person (Or Have One Around)

By Peg Streep on July 14, 2015 in Tech Support
Are Cat people really that different from Dog people? Actually, they are in some respects. But does that mean that never the twain shall meet? The low-down on the special qualities Cat people have...

Baboons Might Kidnap Puppies (But Not As Pets)

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on July 13, 2015 in Animals and Us
A wildlife documentary film claims that Saudi Arabian baboons kidnap puppies and raise them as pets. Here a distinguished animal behaviorist explains why this behavior makes sense from a baboon's point of view—and why it is not a form of pet-keeping.

Nine Strategies for Enhancing Enrichment for Cats with Jobs

From our homes, to shelters, to research facilities, we should consider the unique perspective of the cat and modify our interactions and the environment to celebrate the welfare of the cat.

A Tale of Two Brains: Are Two Really Better than One?

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on July 11, 2015 in Animal Emotions
A recent study of brain-melding -- wiring together the brains of different animals -- raises many important questions about ethics that go beyond neural privacy. While some might think these sorts of experiments are "cool" and futuristic, they raise many frequently ignored questions about the use of animals in these and other research projects.

The Healing Power of Pets

Abby helped Amanda through anxiety and depression. Abby is a cat.

What I Keep Learning From My Cockapoo

I’ve come to realize that the simplicity of a “dog’s life” is misleading. In actuality, they are remarkably wise and the way in which they approach each day offers all of us powerful lessons that can profoundly impact the quality of our lives. What follows is 'the world according to Lucy.'

Dog Days of Summer

An 11-year old with severe injury to the liver was reported in June, linked to the use of a commercially-available blue-green algae dietary supplement. The victim’s liver dysfunction was severe enough to adversely affect her blood clotting ability and it required hospitalization. To the relief of her owners, the 11 year-old, twenty pound Pug dog made a full recovery.

"Killer" Cats?

Conservationists have been scapegoating cat owners for decades, but hard evidence that pet cats (as distinct from feral cats) actually have any long-term effect on the populations of their prey has proved hard to come by. New approaches will be needed if there is to be any meaningful dialogue between the two camps.

Dogs and the Death Penalty

Serious attention is being given to the human death penalty right now—both its overall constitutionality and morality, and also the particular methods by which it is carried out. This is a good opportunity to reexamine the use of death penalty language in relation to companion animals and assess whether it helps or harms.

Beyond Words: A New Book About What Animals Think and Feel

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on July 05, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Award-winning scientist Carl Safina's "Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel" is an excellent summary of recent research on the fascinating animals with whom we share our magnificent planet. I highly recommend "Beyond Words" and I hope it will enjoy a broad and global audience. It really is that thoughtful and important. In many ways "Beyond Words" is beyond words.

Fish Smarts: Why Fish Are More Than Just Streams of Protein

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on July 05, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Fish are smart, sentient, and know a lot about themselves and others. A renowned researcher concludes, "the extensive evidence of fish behavioural and cognitive sophistication and pain perception suggests that best practice would be to lend fish the same level of protection as any other vertebrate." Stay tuned for more on the amazing cognitive and emotional lives of fish.

Separation Anxiety: The Great Imitator, Part 4

You’ve been waiting for it! In the grand finale of this series Dr. Stepita discusses treatment option for canine separation anxiety.

Of Crime, Criminality, and Nature

By Joe Nedelec Ph.D. on June 30, 2015 in The Nature of Crime
Thieving primates, invading chimpanzees, alcoholic monkeys, and insect rape are a few examples of the criminality evident in nature discussed in this post. To further lay the foundation for a biosocial viewpoint of crime and criminality, this post examines how human criminal behavior has numerous analogues in the wild.

Empathic and Fun-Loving Rats also Dream of a Better Future

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on June 30, 2015 in Animal Emotions
New research shows rats may dream of the future just as humans do. The rats appear to be "rehearsing totally novel journeys that the animals need to take in order to reach the food” according to one of the researchers.

Will the Arguing Ever End?

By Seth Slater M.F.A. on June 29, 2015 in The Dolphin Divide
Why things get worse before getting better. We all argue now and then. Chronic arguing, however, requires thoughtful and ongoing work. Happy endings are possible—but there may be a storm or two before the calm.

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

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on June 24, 2015 in Animal Emotions
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

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on June 19, 2015 in Animal Emotions
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.