Category Archives: dog research

Does My Dog Understand How I Feel?

dog understand TonyBy Linda Cole

We already know that dogs are experts at reading our body language and have the ability to read our emotions by looking at our face. We also know that dogs respond to our tone of voice in much the same way we understand another person’s tone. A new study was recently released that gives us a deeper understanding into how the canine brain processes the emotional tones of our voice to understand how we feel.

Scientists have been trying for years to get into the head of canines to unlock what goes on in their mind. Several years ago Dr. Gregory Berns, a Neuroeconomics professor at Emory University, and his colleagues trained dogs to remain calm and lie quietly in an MRI scanner so they could scan the canine brain with the dog fully awake and unrestrained.

In a nutshell, Neuroeconomics is the study of how we make choices by evaluating risks and rewards, and when interacting with other people. When other researchers learned it was possible to train dogs to lie still inside an MRI scanner, it opened up more studies into how the canine brain works. The surprising finding is that dogs, like us, have a dedicated voice area in their brain that receives and interprets emotions in the voices of humans and dogs.

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Does the Way You Greet Your Dog Affect Their Wellbeing?

By Linda Cole

Two of my dogs, Keikei and Dozer, love to wrestle with each other outside. Both of them enjoy the back and forth, and trying to get them back inside after their morning duty run was frustrating, to say the least. One day I decided to try a new tactic, and when Keikei was at the foot of the stairs, I called her to come, showed her a CANIDAE Pure Heaven treat, and waited for her to bounce up the steps. When she got to the top, I gave her the treat, along with some praise and a mini massage. Treats will definitely get a dog’s attention, but according to a new study, how you greet your dog matters.

The bond we have with other people or our pet doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process of earning and building on a trust that grows over time. Our human tendency is to gravitate towards people with a positive attitude who are quick to give us a warm smile. It’s nonthreatening, comforting and indicates friendliness. A simple greeting makes you feel good. When touch is added, the emotional response has a lasting effect. Touch is an important aspect of the bonding process with dogs too. A casual touch from someone who cares is a positive sign of an emotional bond. Like us, dogs are social creatures and how we greet them plays a role in their emotional outlook. Dogs need to feel our touch as much as we need contact from people we care about.

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New Study Says Dogs Are Capable of Imitating Us

By Linda Cole

One nagging question dog owners have is “Why is my pet always staring at me?” Dog experts may have cracked the mystery to that question. According to a new study, dogs watch what we do, remember an action and imitate it with their own interpretation of what they saw us do.

Our long relationship with dogs has given them plenty of time to study us. They pay attention and can learn through observation. To prove this concept, researchers at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest tested dogs to see if they could learn by watching, remember what they saw and then repeat an action on command. According to the scientists, the study shows that dogs can do those things, and provides evidence for the cognitive ability of our canine friends.

Researchers tested eight adult pet dogs ranging in age from 2 to 10 years. The dogs were all female of different breeds, plus one mixed breed. They began with a preliminary test to prepare the dogs for the actual test. Taking turns, each owner had their dog stay and gave the command “Do as I do.” While the dog watched, her owner walked around a traffic cone, rang a bell hanging from a bar, or stuck their head in a bucket on the ground. Returning to the dog, the person waited 5 seconds, then gave the command, “Do it,” and waited for the dog to copy what her owner had done.

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Do Pets See Us As Their Family?

By Linda Cole

When we accept the role of caring for a pet, we have the responsibility of providing for their needs. Many pet owners view their dog or cat as a valued member of their family, lovingly referring to them as their furry kids. I’m sure pets have no concept of what “family” or “parent” means, but in their eyes, our role is one of provider, protector and educator, which are the chief duties of a parent, even in the animal world.

As responsible pet owners, most of us worry about our pets when they’re home alone. We buy winter coats and boots to keep our dogs warm, provide pets with their own beds, give them toys and puzzle games, make sure they have a high quality food like CANIDAE, and include them in family activities. We share a bond – an emotional bond similar to that of parent and child.

Lisa Horn and a team of researchers conducted a study at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, to see how dogs reacted to their owners. According to the study, the way dogs interact with their owners is much the same as children interacting with their parents. Canines have done an amazing job of adapting to us over the centuries, and from a dog’s point of view, we are social partners, replacing other animals of their own species. If you’ve always felt your bond with your dog is special, you’re right. Dogs have a deep connection with owners they share a bond with, similar to the connection parents have with their young children.
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New Study Links Dog Yawning to Empathy

By Linda Cole

Scientists have long been interested in doing studies about our canine friends. Recent studies have explored how the canine mind works and how important body language is to them. This new research has found that dogs, like humans, will often yawn when they see someone else yawning. Researchers also believe yawning is one way that dogs show us empathy.

Empathy is defined as the ability to identify with the feelings, attitudes or thoughts of someone else. Feeling another person’s pain is one of the requirements used to describe sentient beings. Many scientists have come to the conclusion that there are some non-human species, especially mammals and birds, that do have an awareness of self. Of course, people who have a strong bond with their pet have known this all along. Our understanding of canines continues to open our minds and hearts to the unique relationship we share with them.

The empathy of dogs may not be as refined as ours, but when you see the compassion of a mother dog nursing an orphaned squirrel or other wild animal alongside her pups, or a dog who refuses to leave his injured four-legged or two-legged, friend, their actions show a concern for others. Empathy isn’t something that can be taught. It’s what causes us to laugh when someone else laughs, or cry when we watch a love story on TV or see something bad happening to someone. Anyone who has ever rescued a dog or cat from a bad situation on the street did so because of empathy.

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Can Dogs and Cats Cry?

By Julia Williams

Have you ever seen your pet cry? And by “cry,” I mean actual tears from their eyes as an emotional response. Most people would say no; the general consensus is that animals lack the capacity for such a thing. We know that animals can “tear up” as a result of allergies, dust, upper respiratory infections, pollutants and such, but crying as an emotional response is believed impossible by most.

I don’t really like that word “impossible,” though. It would imply that we humans think we know everything there is to know about the emotional lives of animals. But how can we? Unless we are a dog, we can’t know what is in a dog’s mind or heart. We can form an opinion based on science and personal experience, but I think it would be arrogant for any human to say they know with certainty what emotions a dog or cat is capable of feeling.

Many scientists definitely have their own rigid thinking about the emotional capacity of animals. They base their opinion on carefully controlled research rather than the one-on-one bonding that takes place between people and their beloved pets. But here’s the thing:  a recent study proved that people could tell what emotion a dog was experiencing by looking at photographs of the dog’s face. The photos were taken after introducing stimuli designed to elicit a specific reaction from the dog.

Happiness was correctly identified by 88% of the study participants; anger was correctly identified by 70%. So if we can tell by a dog’s face whether he is happy, angry, sad, surprised or afraid, is it farfetched to believe we’ve only scratched the surface in terms of the emotional capacity of animals? I don’t think so.

Jeffrey Masson, author of the bestselling book When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals, believes that animals do lead complex emotional lives. To support his theory, Masson found hundreds of anecdotes from the published works and field studies of noted behaviorists, including Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Cynthia Moss.

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