Dogs are talented observers of human body language. Dog folks attest to this via boatloads of anecdotal stories and home videos that we are happy to share (and over-share) with others. But more importantly for the purposes of The Science Dog, it is the results of an additional boatload of controlled research studies that support our belief that dogs are paying attention to us. … Continue reading Missing the Point
All four of our dogs like cats and are especially smitten with our current cat, Pete. They play with Pete, go for walks with him and sleep with him. Lucky for us, (and for Pete), our dogs would definitely fall within the category of ailurophile (cat lover). But, of course, this is not true of all … Continue reading Ailurophile? (Or not)
My last Science Dog blog. "When Sit Doesn't Mean S*it" reviewed a series of studies showing that training shelter dogs to sit on command is not as predictive of future adoption as was once assumed. Those results should not be interpreted as an argument against the benefits of training programs, but rather as evidence that there may be other factors … Continue reading If Sit Doesn’t Matter, What Does?
Science killed another myth today. This one has been around for a while and is almost universally accepted by shelter staff, rescue folks and dog trainers alike (including me). This is the belief that I am talking about: "Shelter dogs who have been trained to sit on command are viewed more positively by potential adopters and are more likely to be … Continue reading When Sit Doesn’t Mean S*it.
Our youngest dog, Ally, has a 'bestie". Her name is Colbie and she belongs to our friend Amanda, a trainer who also works as an instructor at AutumnGold. Ally is a Golden Retriever. Colbie is a Pit Bull Terrier, adopted from our local shelter while Amanda was on staff there. Being young girls, both Ally and … Continue reading Pretty in Pink
There is a common cognitive bias, the Fundamental Attribution Error, that is central to the way in which we view others and make judgements about their behavior. It is supported by a large body of research and is one of the most common errors that our brains make on a regular basis. The Fundamental Attribution Error refers to our tendency to explain … Continue reading Excitable You
We have a new puppy in the house. Alice is her name. She's cute. Really cute. Of course, it is possible that I am a bit biased.......(nah.....she really is adorable, even now at 4 months....). During the first few weeks that Ally was with our family, we could not go walking at our local park without … Continue reading Go Ask Alice
Vinny, my Brittany, yawns a lot. He yawns first thing in the morning when he rises, in the evening when he is tired, and many times in between. We notice this because Vinny emits an adorable little squeaky sound whenever he launches a particularly wide and emotive yawn. We also know that Vinny seems to be highly susceptible … Continue reading I Yawn for Your Love
When training my dogs, I always have music playing. And, truth-be-told, my personal tastes gravitate neither to easy-listening nor to high-brow classical music. Rather, I am a rock n' roll gal, all the way home. On a given day, my dogs and I may be training agility to The Who, retrieving to Stevie Ray Vaughan, and practicing tricks to Ray Lamontagne. On days that my feminist freak … Continue reading Its All Rock-and-Roll to Me
Many animal shelters regularly use standardized tests to assess the behavior of dogs and to determine adoption suitability. However, while the use of these tests has become ubiquitous, there is a distinct lack of research demonstrating their reliability or validity. In other words, while testing a dog's degree of friendliness, aggression and fear prior to adoption makes intuitive sense and feels like a good idea, we do not … Continue reading Beware the Straw Man