- Behavior, Genetics, and “Breed”
- Public Policy
A closer look at one of the most striking findings from the new study out of MIT and Harvard New, state of the art genetic analysis found no significant connection between breed and agonistic thresholds among a big sample of pet dogs. Nor did it find any connection between genetics in general and this particular personality factor, which the researchers defined as “how easily a dog is provoked by frightening, uncomfortable or annoying stimuli.” What the project, called Darwin’s Ark,
The Darwin’s Ark study on dog behavior and genetics might reset how we all think about and talk about dog behavior.
Fostering and playgroups are the best strategies for understanding who individual shelter dogs are.
When a serious dog bite incident hits the news, the person bitten will sometimes report that the dog bit “without warning,” but this is very unusual behavior among dogs.
“It’s not a problem for the dog; it’s a problem for the human,” is among the first mottos regarding so-called dog “behavior problems” I learned as a novice dog trainer. The famed behaviorist, Dr. Ian Dunbar, would often begin a lecture on behavior modification with some version of this pronouncement. But even though he acknowledged the negative implication of the term, he would continue to use it because it’s such a common language phrase. Experts do this all of the time,
In 2013 the most comprehensive study to date asked whether the dogs (fewer than 1 dog in 2 million) involved in dog bite-related fatalities (DBRF) had anything in common with one another. The collaboration of a veterinary epidemiologist, a public health expert, an animal behaviorist and dog behavior researchers examined the available evidence regarding every DBRF in the US over a 10 year period, a total of 256. They found 7 situations that were often missing in the lives of
“Oh behave,” we often say to our children and dogs alike, when they do stuff that irritates us. But no one, not kids and not puppies either are born knowing how to “behave.” Understanding what’s expected of them, and how to read the signals others give off, and generally how to behave appropriately in social situations, even to recognize the feelings of others all have to be learned. In the language of developmental psychology, all this learning is collected under
I have a personal litmus test for dog knowledge among humans. If someone asks, “is that dog aggressive?” I understand immediately that we are starting from zero. Karen Overall, the noted behaviorist, once said that as far as she could tell, the word “aggression” simply meant anything a person didn’t like. She was speaking to an audience of dog professionals. More than 60 years ago, John Paul Scott, one of the earliest and most revered of canine behavior researchers, declared
Dr. Gary Patronek and his colleagues, the authors of a ten-year study of dog bite-related fatalities (DBRF) did something not attempted before or since—they gathered their data from massive accumulations of reports and interviews done by officials, from investigating officers to coroners and pathologists. Previous work on the subject had always been based on collections of reports in the popular media. One of Patronek et al’s discoveries was that the dog (or dogs) involved usually simply lived on the owner’s