Category Archives: Dr. Monique Udell

The Canine Behavior Studies of Dr. Udell

By Linda Cole

I’m always interested in reading new studies done about dogs that help us better understand our relationship with them. Dr. Monique Udell is someone who has her name attached to many of these studies. One recent study conducted by Dr. Udell and her research team explores whether dogs can read our minds. I may not always agree with her findings, but she is an important researcher who is unlocking our dogs mind so we can properly care for them by understanding how they think, their amazing ability to understand us, and why they do the things they do.

Dr. Monique Udell is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida. In 2006, she helped set up the Canine Cognition and Behavior Lab at the college to primarily study the social behavior of dogs and the human/dog bond. Her research deals with the social behavior of dogs and how they understand us through observation, reasoning and instinct. The studies ascertain that dogs show remarkable awareness in decision making when interacting with us, and explore how well dogs can understand our gestures, facial expression and body language. Shelter dogs that have never been in a home environment or have been in a shelter for a long time don’t respond to humans as well as a dog living in a home or wolves that have daily interactions with their caretakers. Pet dogs and wolves both show they have us figured out and can read us pretty well.

Her work involves canines with different life experiences, like shelter dogs versus family dogs, and compares them with tame wolves, foxes and coyotes to see how they respond to our gestures and body language. She studies the adaptability of the canine social behavior and how it corresponds to living with humans. We have the ability to influence dogs through training and reinforcement. The research done by Dr. Udell and her team is a new way of trying to understand the importance of our interactions with dogs and other canids in the Canidae family. This new way of thinking about our relationship with dogs came after she had visited the Wolf Park in Battle Ground, Indiana and studied how wolves raised by humans and dogs interacted with each other and with their humans. The studies done at the Wolf Park help researchers learn how they read and respond to us, and what kind of signals they show to us.

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