The Labs have a problem. Actually, some Labs have a problem. It's in their genes: In 2016, a group of researchers at the University of Cambridge discovered a genetic anomaly in a small group of overweight Labrador Retrievers (1). Specifically, the modification is a short deletion sequence in a gene called POMC. The presence of… Continue reading Do These Genes Make Me Look Fat?
Trainers who use reward-based training methods (aka positive reinforcement training) often expound about its benefits to dogs and likewise caution about potential risks associated with punishment-based training. Although not extensive, there are a few studies that support the behavioral and emotional benefits of reward-based training and several others showing that the use of aversive stimuli… Continue reading Reward-Based Training and Relationship
I have avoided writing this essay. The reason is that, contrary to how it may on occasion appear, I generally do not seek out conflict. Considered debate about scientific evidence and civilized discussions? Yep, enjoy those. However, the acrimony and polarization that frequently accompanies internet discussions about how best to feed dogs? Avoid those like… Continue reading The Raw Deal
I am happy to introduce the newest member of the Case family. Meet Stanley (aka Stan the Man, Stanley Manley, Stanley Pants). Mike and I love having a new puppy in the house (lack of sleep and reduced writing time aside). One of the many things that we enjoy is sharing a new puppy's excitement… Continue reading The Emotional Life of Puppy Stanley
Despite the presumed superiority of our brains, humans are susceptible to a wide range of mental mistakes. These are collectively called "cognitive errors" and they impinge upon our judgement and can lead our decision-making astray. I have written about several of these previously in The Science Dog (attribution error, the availability heuristic and negativity bias),… Continue reading The Nose Knows Bias
In recent years, dog owners have started to demand more transparency from pet food manufacturers (a needed change, in my opinion). Many are interested in selecting new types of foods for their dogs and prefer products that are less highly processed. In direct response to these trends, nutrition researchers have been studying the ingredients that… Continue reading Tastes Like Chicken
The source and quality of a food's protein sources are important features to consider when selecting a dog food. Dog folks who care about these things often agonize over how to differentiate among foods in terms of both protein level and quality. These concerns are justified because the protein ingredients found in pet foods vary dramatically.… Continue reading Mind Your Peas and Potatoes