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Great Thinkers on Dogs
Paul McGreevy & John Bradshaw
Paul McGreevy & John Bradshaw

Horowitz: I think that through our research, and the ideas that I developed in Inside of a Dog, I reminded people of the huge interest in understanding the dog’s point of view. In other words, looking at dog behavior from the dog’s side as opposed to from an owner’s perspective or the perspective of a comparative psychologist, who is interested primarily in mapping nonhuman animals to human animals.

So I think for many people, I helped re-spark the interest in the dog qua dog, and I’m very pleased and happy about that.

McConnell: I would say it’s my focus on the natural history of both humans as primates and dogs as canines, and using these evolutionary heritages to explain and enhance our interactions. My two favorite species have always been people and dogs, and I’m as fascinated by our own behavior as I am of canine behavior.

What needs more research or remains unresolved about the dog?

Otto: I have a sense that working dogs, dogs with a purpose and dogs who have things to do live longer and happier lives. Many pet dogs are frustrated, bored, inactive and fat; it kind of amazes me that a lot of dogs’ lives don’t even meet the environmental- stimulation standards required for rodents living in research labs. We need to think about how stimulation, or the lack thereof, affects dogs’ quality of life.

Miklósi: A better understanding of what makes for good social relationships between dogs and humans, particularly cooperation. For example, “working together” might be quite selfish for dogs in that they are working for a reward, like play or food. Alternatively, research could investigate whether cooperation can be organized such that dogs are cooperating for the sake it.

McGreevy: What I call “dogmanship”— the science of how the best dog folk interact with their dogs. I’m also interested in understanding how our behavior frustrates and confuses our dogs.

McConnell: We still need lots of research on communication: how dogs interpret our behavior, how we interpret their behavior and how accurate our perceptions and interpretations really are. I think that’s most important for companion dogs. Nutrition, diet, physiology and behavior need to be researched as well. I think there is so much in these areas that we haven’t explored yet and need to. Also, research could look specifically at aggression and investigate precipitating factors, putting it all on the table: nature, nurture, genetics, physiology and diet, experience, and learning.

Bradshaw: The whole area of the dog’s olfactory abilities is waiting to be properly understood. We use those abilities, but I don’t think we fully understand them. We know very little about the dog’s vomeronasal organ, and we don’t even agree as scientists on when dogs are using it. I don’t know what the implications of this knowledge would be for companion dogs, but sometimes the most exciting findings arise when doing research for the sake of it; practical value is a byproduct.

What do you wish the average dog owner knew about dogs?

Miklósi: You get out what you put in. If you want a dog as a social partner, that doesn’t mean lying in bed together and watching TV, but going out together actively. That could include learning, teaching, talking or solving problems together. I wish people understood that if they do this, they both would have happier lives.

A great example is olfaction. People think that dogs have fantastic abilities when it comes to smell, but that’s an oversimplification. Dogs have a fantastic potential for smelling, but if the dog spends its whole life in an apartment and never uses its nose, then I would assume that dog would have poor smelling abilities.

The same goes for social interactions. If the dog has no experience meeting other dogs or people, or has never had a task, then that dog will not function properly. And I think this is also a welfare issue. In some cases, street dogs who are rescued and taken to Western countries are worse off because they are alone, have no experiences and sleep all day.

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Submitted by Anonymous | January 15 2014 |

I'd like to add to the great thinkers list the following snippet of Dog genome sequence and analysis published in Nature [2] by Broad Institute Communications [1], December 7th, 2005:

An international research team led by scientists at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard […]

Similarities to humans
Dogs not only occupy a special place in human hearts, they also sit at a key branch point in the evolutionary tree relative to humans. By tracking evolution's genetic footprints through the dog, human and mouse genomes, the scientists found that humans share more of their ancestral DNA with dogs than with mice, confirming the utility of dog genetics for understanding human disease.
[…]
###

1. http://www.broadinstitute.org/news/253

2. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v438/n7069/full/nature04338.html

Submitted by Anonymous | February 5 2014 |

I'd like to share and continue on with another group of great thinkers!:)
January 16, 2014 -PLOS Genetics published a new research article on "Genome Sequencing Highlights the Dynamic Early History of Dogs" by Adam H. Freedman et al:
http://www.plosgenetics.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pgen....

UC Hospitals reviewed the above mentioned article [1]. Here is an excerpt:
"Domestication apparently occurred with significant bottlenecks in the historical population sizes of both early dogs and wolves. Freedman and his colleagues were able to infer historical sizes of dog and wolf populations by analyzing genome-wide patterns of variation, and show that dogs suffered a 16-fold reduction in population size as they diverged from wolves. Wolves also experienced a sharp drop in population size soon after their divergence from dogs, implying that diversity among both animals' common ancestors was larger than represented by modern wolves."

1. http://www.uchospitals.edu/news/2014/20140116-domesticated-dogs.html

Submitted by Anonymous | February 13 2014 |

Celebrating Darwin Day with the greatest thinker of all time evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin when he wrote in The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, “Man himself cannot express love and humility by external signs, so plainly as does a dog, when with drooping ears, hanging lips, flexuous body, and wagging tail, he meets his beloved master.”

He definitely knew about a gleeful attitude in a dog. My sweet and healthy female hound dog that is a little over three years old fits the bill and loves her mommy (me). Anyone who takes on a two week old sick puppy becomes the official MOM!lol

A happy birthday anniversary to our dearly beloved Charles.