Monday Pets

The Thoughtful Animal

Category archives for Monday Pets

Dogs Can Hear How Big You Are

Lots of animals are well aware that bigger means scarier. In stressful or aggressive situations, for example, the hair or fur of chimpanzees, rats, cats, and even humans stands up on end (in humans, given our lack of fur, this results in goose bumps) in an effort to dissuade a potential attack. Elephant seals use…

Most dog owners think that their dogs can tell what they’re thinking. Or at least, in some sense, they will insist that their pet pooches can sense their emotions, and respond accordingly. Indeed, a man by the name of Karl Krall (say that three times fast) thought that there exist some sort of psychic connections…

Whether you’re a dog, a cat, or a grad student who hasn’t been home to shower for a few days, fleas are a major problem. They make skin itch. And NOTHING is worse than itchy skin. But… Do you know WHERE the fleas are? Where they like to hang out and guard their little flea…

Children and Their Pets

Your humble narrator finds himself sick with a cold, so here’s a post from the archives. There is considerable research on how children interact with other children and with adults, and how child development can be influenced by those interactions. But research on children’s interactions with non-human animals seem to be limited. Given how ubiquitous…

Cooperation and conflict are both a part of human society. While a good deal of the academic literature addresses the evolutionary origins of conflict, in recent years there has been an increased focus on the investigation of the evolutionary origins of cooperative behavior. One component of cooperative behavior that might be present in other animals…

At least one dog can be found in forty percent of US households, and forty percent of those owners allow their dogs to sleep on their beds. To put this in perspective, in a family with five children, two of them can be expected to become dog owners, and one of them will probably allow…

Monday Pets on Scientific American!

For today’s dose of monday pet blogging, head on over to a piece that I wrote for Scientific American that went up today. I used the invitation as an opportunity to a dig a little deeper into the story of Belyaev and his domesticated silver foxes (I previously wrote about them, here and here)

Dogs are pretty smart. They can have huge vocabularies, they can infer meaning in the growls of other dogs, and they can effortlessly figure out if other dogs want to play or fight with them. But their intelligence might be limited to the social domain; indeed, while they outperform chimpanzees in social tasks, chimpanzees outperform…

Predator-prey interactions are often viewed as evolutionary arms races; while predators improve their hunting behaviors and their ability to sneak up on their prey, the prey improve upon their abilities to detect and escape from their predators. The problem, of course, is that there is a trade-off between maintaining vigilance – the attention necessary to…

I will be reposting some dog-related posts from the archives in the coming few weeks as I prepare for the course I’m teaching this semester on dog cognition. Please let me know if you find something inaccurate or unclear. Domesticated dogs seem to have an uncanny ability to understand human communicative gestures (see here). If…