This blog is about science. Not to put too fine a point on this, but the name is, after all "The Science Dog", not "The Anecdotes Dog." Early in this blog's history, I wrote a series of essays that examined the principal underlying constructs of science (see The Steve Series). In a nutshell, the scientific… Continue reading It’s Not Rocket Science….But, it IS Science
Perhaps one who is wearing a top hat and carrying an umbrella? For Disney fans, Jiminy was the ever-present, somewhat annoying, arthropod who acts as Pinocchio's conscience. For our purposes, he is just another (edible) cricket. Insect Protein - All the Rage: Insect protein as an alternate and renewable protein source for dog foods is… Continue reading Hearing Crickets?
Not the Bruce Willis movie. Rather, mercury levels in pet foods. Are they too high? Unlike the movie, these worries are not fiction. However, neither is there reason for widespread panic. Let's look at what we currently know about mercury in pet foods and whether or not these levels should be of concern to dog… Continue reading Mercury Rising?
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?
Most people have heard the admonition "Stop playing with your food!" at some point during their childhood. It is rare to hear the dog version of this rebuke, however, especially if you live with Golden Retrievers (or Labs......). When the food is only in the bowl for 30 seconds, there is little time for playing… Continue reading Does Your Dog Play with His Food?
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
One of the benefits of offering puppy classes is that we often have the opportunity to follow dogs from the early stages of puppyhood through adolescence and adulthood. An example of this is a young dog named Sassy, who attended class with her owners, June and Mark. They completed our 5-week puppy course and then,… Continue reading You Say Tomato, I Say……..
We started training nose work games with our dogs about 8 years ago. One of the many neat things about this activity is observing the different search styles of each dog. For example, Chippy, our Toller, was very focused and methodical. He stopped and thoroughly sniffed each box before moving on to the next, finally… Continue reading Science Says: “Nose Work is Good for Your Dog!”
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
Like many dog training schools, AutumnGold includes an orientation night each session. Owners attend without dogs to learn about our training philosophy and methods. Because it is not unusual for young dogs to react with a bit of anxiety on the first night of class, we teach students how to reduce their dogs' stress and provide methods for helping dogs to feel secure and… Continue reading Clown Fear
Raw feeding has increased in popularity in recent years. While still a small portion of the pet food market, raw foods are definitely here to stay. Perhaps more so than any other type of feeding regimen, dog owners who feed raw are highly dedicated to this form of feeding. To test this premise, try separating… Continue reading A Few Raw Facts
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