Having owners present or absent during routine veterinary visits and procedures continues to be a controversial issue. While many owners (myself included) maintain that it is imperative that we remain with our dogs during veterinary examinations, some veterinary professionals feel that dogs benefit if separated from their owner during routine examinations and procedures. We already … Continue reading Be the (Type of) Support Your Dog Needs
The Scent of Happiness
Can Dogs Detect the Smell of Human Emotions? A few years ago, I wrote about our neighbor Joe, his new dog, and Joe's (somewhat ubiquitous) theory that dogs can "smell fear." At that time, a team of researchers, led by Dr. Daniel Anielo, had just published a study of dogs' ability to detect human emotions … Continue reading The Scent of Happiness
What Do You Know……
About Canine Communication Signals? Do Dogs Enjoy Hugs? The question of whether or not dogs enjoy being hugged by humans tends to spark a great deal of discussion and controversy. While there are some who state that dogs do not naturally enjoy the intense physical closeness of a hug (and may even perceive hugs as … Continue reading What Do You Know……
What Dog Owners Think about Lead-Pulling
(And why it is such a common problem.....) One of the many joys of living with dogs is going for walks. In our family, all of our dogs have loved to hike and run, and Mike and I spend time together almost every morning with our dogs at our local forest preserve. The dogs enjoy … Continue reading What Dog Owners Think about Lead-Pulling
Does Your Dog Love You More than He Loves Food?
(Do you want to know?) Our Dogs Love Us Of this, we are pretty certain. Of course, this is the science dog, so we like evidence. One of the ways in which researchers study dogs' relationships with owners is to measure dogs' preferences - called differential responses - in a variety of situations. In many … Continue reading Does Your Dog Love You More than He Loves Food?
Teasing is Bad.
(Science Says So). My dogs are retrieving maniacs; always have been. This is not surprising seeing that we live with Goldens and Tollers. Throw something (literally anything) and they will happily race after it, pick it up, and bring it back to you. We LOVE this about our dogs and they adore playing this game. … Continue reading Teasing is Bad.
Did Lassie Love Her Job?
One of the many ways that the domestic dog (Canis familiaris) is unique is in how many different roles that dogs have in human society. Most who read this blog share their lives with dogs who are well cared for and who are deeply loved. However, around the world, some dogs lack homes altogether and … Continue reading Did Lassie Love Her Job?
The Eeyore Effect
Measuring the Emotional Toll of Aversive Training Methods The tension between dog trainers who use primarily reward-based methods (positive reinforcement) and those who rely more on aversive methods (positive punishment/negative reinforcement) is not new. Many trainers (myself included) believe that not only are reward-based methods more humane than methods that rely heavily upon aversives, but … Continue reading The Eeyore Effect
Wait. Should I like that?
A number of studies have shown that dogs possess the ability to learn new behaviors and even problem solve by observing the actions of other dogs or humans. Several forms of social (aka observational) learning are defined by researchers. Discussions regarding dogs' proficiency, the types of tasks that can be learned, and the relative cognitive … Continue reading Wait. Should I like that?
Wait. You Can Eat THAT?
Poop eating. Lots of dogs do it. Many are quite proud of it. Owners? Generally not so enthusiastic. What do they eat? The technical term for poop-eating, of any type, is coprophagy. Many dogs readily consume the feces of other animal species - rabbit, deer, horse, possum and raccoon. Additionally, dogs who share their home … Continue reading Wait. You Can Eat THAT?
Still Be There……Once it is Safe
The Question: Are dogs less stressed when their owners are present during routine veterinary examinations or do they fare better when examined in the owners' absence? I have written about this issue before (see "Be There"). The study reviewed in that piece reported that having a dog's owner speak softly to and pet their dog … Continue reading Still Be There……Once it is Safe
Does Your Dog Play with His Food?
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?
Reward-Based Training and Relationship
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
The Emotional Life of Puppy Stanley
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
The Nose Knows Bias
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