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I finished my KPA writing assignment on cueing, in which I suggested solutions to Polly’s perplexing problem with her peripatetic parrot, just in time to meet my self-imposed Weekly Wag publishing deadline.

Be forewarned, it’s geek week at the Wag.

Last week I pointed you to a study by Monique Udell and her colleagues at the University of Florida in which they argued that dogs’ abilities to understand human communication is learned rather than a capacity that dogs are born with due to thousands of years of living along side humans during which dogs were domesticated. By the way, did you know that dogs, or proto-dogs, were the very first animal that humans domesticated? Is that cool or what?

Anyway, among those who take the latter viewpoint is Brain Hare of Duke University Canine Cognition Lab, as many of you probably know. What I’ve been wondering is what Brain and his colleagues think about Monique’s et al’s. research. I love intellectual back and forth among experts in their fields, especially this one ’cause it’s all about dogs! So much can be learned when scholars challenge each others assumptions, methods and interpretations of data.

Well, guess what? I found an article by Brian Hare, et al., that specifically addresses some research that Monique and her colleagues conducted. It’s entitled: “The domestication hypothesis for dog’s skills with human communication: a response to Udell et al (2008) and Wynne et al. (2008).”

Even if the statistics are weed-thick for some, they were for me, there’s still a lot to be gained from Brian’s et al’s. analysis of Udell’s and Wynne’s research methods and findings. Udell and Wynne were kind enough to give Brain and his colleagues their raw data which Brain, et al., re-analyzed. Interestingly, though, perhaps not surprisingly, they arrived at different conclusions from Udell and Wynne,

In the article Brain and his colleagues conclude, among other things, that:

Therefore, even if learning plays a role in the development of these skills, this does not mean that the domestication hypothesis is totally incorrect, or that richer cognitive explanations of dogs’ skills are not warranted.

There’s amazing research going on all over the world on canine learning and cognition, canine/human communication, teasing out the effects of thousands of years of domestication, and more.

I’m gathering a list of the research institutes and links to some of their published research. I’ll share that with you next week.

In the meantime, gotta get back to putting three cues under stimulus control. Lucky for me, Sadie is an eager, tail-wagging happy, forgiving learner.

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7 Responses to “Boulder Dog Weekly Wag: 6/23/10”

  1. Ooh, I love Geek Week! I was at APDT where Monique Udell presented her findings, so it’s very interesting to read Brian Hare’s interpretation. Awesome share.

  2. Pamela says:

    I won’t be able to get everything from you link this morning so I’ll have to stop back later.

    But your post is such a good look at how science advances. It’s truly a back and forth as different folks try to tease out the truth from all their experiments. That’s why I always laugh when we hear about the results of the latest “scientific study” on the news. As if that will be the final word?!

  3. Pup Fan says:

    Really interesting! As a geek myself, I’m all about it!

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