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Origin of (Dog) Species
East Asia may not be where it all began.
Over the weekend, a science writer friend tipped me off to a paper to be published on Monday—“Complex population structure in African village dogs and its implications for inferring dog domestication history.” It was a gloriously sunny weekend, perfect for adventures with Lulu and Renzo, so I gave the paper a skim and managed to underappreciate the implications. As usual, I left it to The New...
News: JoAnna Lou
The Familiar Sounds of Barking
Study finds that we’re born with a natural ability to understand dogs.
An important part of being a dog lover is learning to understand canine body language. Personally, I attribute my knowledge to my pups, a perfect teaching team. But it turns out that we may be born understanding more than we think.  A new study published in the July issue of Developmental Psychology found that 6-month-old babies could match the sound of an aggressive bark with a picture of an...
News: Guest Posts
Mysteries of the Basset Hound Revealed
Scientists isolate the gene behind short legs.
A new study published in Science identifies the single evolutionary event that shortened the legs of Dachshunds, Basset Hounds and other stubby puppies. An extra copy of a gene (Fgf4 retrogene, to be exact), acquired by mutation at least 300 years ago, “causes the overproduction of a protein that disrupts growth during fetal development,” writes Sarah Arnquist, translating the study for a New...
News: Karen B. London
Dog Breath Is A Good Thing
Dogs use it to decide whether to search for food.
In a recent study in the journal Animal Behaviour, Heberlein and Turner found that dogs were more likely to search for food after observing another dog foraging if they smelled food on the other dog’s breath. After the first dog searched for food, the two dogs made snout-to-snout contact. If the first dog had successfully found food, then the second dog was more willing to seek food from the...
News: Guest Posts
Study Finds High Fluoride Levels in Dog Food
Linked to hormone disruption, thyroid problems and bone cancer in humans.
A new study by the Environmental Working Group in Washington D.C. found fluoride levels 2.5 times greater than permitted for human consumption in eight out of ten dog food brands tested by an independent lab. “While scientists have not determined how much fluoride is safe for dogs,” the EWC report states, “they have found that people who consume excessive fluoride often develop mottled teeth (...
News: Karen B. London
Saving Coyotes’ Lives
Scientist Marc Bekoff advises people to keep coyotes away from their homes.
When coyotes lose their fear of people, their lives are in danger. The more these wild animals come into contact with people, the more likely they are to be shot by authorities who face enormous pressure to prevent people and pets from being hurt by coyotes. With that in mind, behavioral ecologist Marc Bekoff, who has studied coyotes for decades, urges people to do what they can to keep coyotes...
News: Karen B. London
See African Wild Dogs on Safari
Let Patricia McConnell be your guide.
When I was first interning as an applied animal behaviorist, I spent months with Patricia McConnell sitting in on all of her cases, reviewing the details, riding to house calls and going to conferences together. During our morning “getting our paws in the ground” tradition, I learned a lot as we shared experiences about our own dogs, training classes and consultations, all while discussing life,...
News: Karen B. London
Do Dogs Feel Regret?
Are they truly sorry for mistakes?
In a recent article in The New York Times, John Tierney discusses recent research indicating that animals may experience feelings of regret. One scientist quoted in the article defines regret as the recognition of a missed opportunity. Some of the most recent evidence that animals do feel regret includes the brain activity of monkeys who have made a choice that results in NOT receiving a highly...
News: JoAnna Lou
The Dog Who Sparked an Animal Rights Movement
Slate.com explores the history of protecting animals in medical research.
Today, Slate.com begins a five-part history of animal rights in regards to laboratory testing. The series begins with the heartbreaking story of Pepper, a Dalmation who forever changed the way American science obtains and uses research animals. Pepper sparked a national movement in 1965, when she was stolen from her loving home in Pennsylvania and sold to a New York hospital for cardiology...
News: JoAnna Lou
Fetching From A Photo
Research shows Border Collies may understand how humans communicate.
From rolling over to fetching the remote, I’ve always been impressed by the canine ability and willingness to learn whatever humans want to teach them. When I attended ClickerExpo in March, I was amazed to see videos of a shelter dog learning concepts such as bigger versus smaller and guide dogs training to develop other-awareness, the skill needed to understand if a doorway is too low for their...

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