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

More Evidence that Dogs Rose Early On

By Mark Derr on May 24, 2015 in Dog's Best Friend
New evidence that dogs emerged in multiple places before the end of the last Ice Age.

Dog's Brains Are Tuned to Recognize Human Faces

Recent fMRI data shows that dogs' sensitivity to human faces and expressions may be wired into the canine brain.

What to Do When You Hate Your Partner’s Pet

By Guy Winch Ph.D. on May 17, 2015 in The Squeaky Wheel
You might love the new man or woman in your life but what do you do when you can't stand their pet?

Butts and Noses: Secrets and Lessons from Dog Parks

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on May 16, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Dog parks are gold mines of information about the behavior of dogs and humans. In this brief essay I consider a number of common questions and provide "quick answers" and many different references to which readers can go. While we know a lot about dogs there also are many holes in the database despite claims to the contrary. There are numerous projects waiting to be done.

Moving Beyond the Euthanasia Imperative

Why is natural death wrong for our companion animals? Why is it a dangerous idea that animals could be—at least in some circumstances—kept comfortable and shielded from significant suffering as they live out their last days? And to turn the question backwards, why is euthanasia the unchallenged imperative in veterinary medicine?

Can Women be as Violent as Men?

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on May 14, 2015 in The Human Beast
Gender equality is making strides in most occupations, including violent ones such as the military and police. If violent crime is a “job,” as Woody Allen referred to bank robbery in Take the Money and Run, can we expect to see gender equality there also?

A Simple Way of Reducing Long-Term Stress in Dogs?

An unexpected finding — the simple act of walking your dog can affect its long-term ability to cope with stress.

Why Shouldn’t We Use Punishment toTeach A Dog Not To Jump Up

There needs to be trust in our relationships with our pets.

Empathic Rats Save Drowning Pals Rather than Eat Chocolate

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on May 13, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Research once again shows rats display empathy so why do we continue to torture them in all sorts of invasive research? In the latest study rats were found to save other rats from drowning rather than eat chocolate and were "more likely to help when they’ve had an unpleasant swimming experience of their own, adding to growing evidence that the rodents feel empathy."

The Ideal Dog

Having a well-mannered dog just might be easier than we thought.

Killing "Happy" Pigs Is "Welfarish" and Isn't Just Fine

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on May 07, 2015 in Animal Emotions
A new book by Barry Estabrook called "Pig Tales: An Omnivore's Quest for Sustainable Meat " could make a huge difference in people's meal plans. Following in Temple Grandin's footsteps Mr. Estabrook argues that pigs need to be treated better before they're killed on the way to people's mouth and that killing "happy pigs" is just fine. But, really, no one has to eat a pig.

Do Dogs Have Empathy for Human Stress and Discomfort?

Dogs and humans seem to respond in the same way when they hear the crying sounds of the distressed baby.

Your Dog and You: A New Book About Forming Close Friendships

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on May 05, 2015 in Animal Emotions
A new book by Gill Garratt, a psychologist and specialist in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) called "Your dog and you...: Understanding the canine psyche," is a very useful guide for forming close relationships between dogs and humans. The combination of scientific data, numerous case studies, and exceptional photographs make this book a most valuable read.

Makings of a Child

What is a father? How does assisted reproduction reshape how we think of fathers and mothers, and what are the consequences for children's genetic, epigenetic and cultural legacies?

What Your Dog Wants

Living with a pet provides humans with many physical and psychological benefits. Research shows that the health and well-being of pet owners is greater than that of non-pet-owners. But what about our pets? Sure, we buy them treats and care for them. But do they get deeper, more important rewards from their human relationships? And how might this come about?

The Beneficial Effects of Animals on Children With Autism

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on May 04, 2015 in Animals and Us
Temple Grandin told me that some (but not all) people with autism have a special way with animals. This new study examined the biological mechanisms behind the soothing effects Guinea pigs can have on children with autism spectrum disorders.

Mama Bliss

Mama Bliss, a stellar Portuguese water dog, provides mothering in the most surprising way.

Why Do Women Have Orgasms?

By Michael Castleman M.A. on April 30, 2015 in All About Sex
Controversy surrounds the issue of why women evolved to have orgasms.

The Bark Park

Should you bring your dog to a dog park?

William Shakespeare Hated Dogs

Shakespeare put thousands of words into the mouths of hundreds of people—but not one of them ever finds a good thing to say about dogs.

The Sky Isn’t Falling

This spring, our national public health authorities announced that nearly 400 cases of salmonella bacterial intestinal infection had been identified. They were due to a single, shared cause.

Getting to the Goal

By Seth Slater M.F.A. on April 29, 2015 in The Dolphin Divide
How focusing on the positive helps us overcome obstacles. What we want is often more powerful than what we fear. But if we’re not careful in how we frame our goals, we may be setting ourselves up for disappointment—and inadvertently turn our fears into reality.

Does Training Make Your Dog Smarter?

Dogs that have been trained to high levels of performance in any of a number of skills (e.g., agility, schutzhund, search and rescue, retrieving, musical freestyle, etc.) become better problem solvers on totally unrelated tasks.

Captive Killer Whales Die Much Younger than Wild Orcas

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on April 29, 2015 in Animal Emotions
A new study shows captive killer whales don't live as long as wild relatives. The researchers show that "62 to 81 percent of wild female killer whales live at least 15 years. In contrast, only 27 percent of the now-dead females in the captive study survived that long. Roughly half of the still-living captive female whales are at least 15 years old."

Dogs and Underdogs: Happiness at Both Ends of the Leash

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on April 28, 2015 in Animal Emotions
Elizabeth Abbott's "Dogs and Underdogs: Finding Happiness at Both Ends of the Leash" and Toni Shelbourne's "Among the Wolves" are excellent reads. Both books are filled with personal stories about these amazing beings and show how we can rescue and help them and they can in turn rescue and help us. Both also raise numerous questions about human-animal relationships.

Kids and Animals Helping One Another at Green Chimneys

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on April 26, 2015 in Animal Emotions
I just returned home from a most inspiring conference called "Growing Together: Kids, Animals and Sowing the Seeds of Resiliency" held at Green Chimneys in Brewster, New York. This interdisciplinary gathering on human-animal interaction shows how much can be done for the kids and the animals who in many ways rescue, help, and heal one another. Green Chimneys rocks!

Sex with Animals

Is zoophilia, or sexual attraction to animals, a sexual orientation? Or is it a perversion? And is it possible to engage in zoo-sex without causing harm?

Is Your Dog Lonely?

Is Your Dog Lonely? It can be difficult to decide whether to adopt a second dog

Need a Lift? Just Look Into a Dog's Eyes.

By Mark Derr on April 22, 2015 in Dog's Best Friend
Japanese researchers make a lofty claim for what staring into your dog's eyes does to you and your dog.