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The bad news? I’m Border Collie busy and just didn’t time to meet my Thursday (6/20/11) publishing deadline for The Wag.

The good news? I’m glad I didn’t post on Thursday. Yesterday I received my July issue of Whole Dog Journal in which Pat Miller covers highlights from the recent 21st conference of Professional Animal Behavior Associates (PABA), May 14-15, 2011 at the University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario. The theme of the entire conference was “Exploring the Dog’s Mind”!

Check out Pat’s article, “How Do Dog’s Show Emotions: Some thoughts on — and recognition of — canine cognition and emotions.”

That fits nicely with our current theme here at The Wag–canine cognition and more.

Last week I promised links to institutes around the world where scholars are researching canine cognition. If you know of any I missed, please leave a comment with a link to the lab or institute!

Here they are in no particular order:

Max Planck Institute (Leipzig, Germany)

For a number of reasons, the domestic dog (Canis familiaris) is a very interesting model for investigating different questions regarding the evolution of cognitive abilities. The fact that dogs have been living with humans for at least 15.000 years may have led to the selection of cognitive abilities by humans or even the co-evolution of dogs’ cognitive abilities with those of humans… . Our research with dogs focuses on the following topics: Human-dog communication; Visual perspective taking; Social learning; Meta-cognitive abilities; Physical cognition.

If you click on the Dog Studies badge (above) you’ll go to the main site for the Max Planck Institute where you will find links to research papers by Dr. Juliane Kaminski, who was featured in the BBC documentary, “The Secret Life of the Dog,” among many other luminaries.

University of Florida Canine Cognition and Behavior Lab (Gainesville, Florida)

Here at the University of Florida we are setting out to answer questions about the behavior and abilities of domestic dogs. Domestic dogs share a unique relationship with humans and through scientific investigation we can gain a better understanding of the characteristics and behaviors that make dogs mans best friend. We are interested in many areas of canine behavior and cognition including: Responsiveness to human gestures; sensitivity to attentional state; social behavior and development; imitation and social learning; modes of communication; human-canine interaction; learning and discrimination; temperament; and problem solving, among others.

Click here for a list of publications by Dr. Monique Udell, Dr. Clive Wynne and others.

Duke Canine Cognition Center (Duke University, Durham, North Carolina)

The Duke Canine Cognition Center (DCCC) is dedicated to the study of dog psychology.  Our goal is to understand the flexibility and limitations of dog cognition.  In doing so, we gain a window into the mind of animals as well as the evolution of our own species.  We can also apply our knowledge of dog cognition to improving programs in which dogs are bred and trained to help humans (i.e. service dogs for the disabled, etc.). We study dog cognition by inviting dog owners living in the vicinity of Duke University (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) to volunteer their pet dog(s) to play fun problem solving games where they can win treats (food or toys).

Click here for publications by Dr. Brian Hare and others.

Clever Dog Lab (University of Vienna, Austria)

Domestic dogs, since their divergence from wolves about 15,000 years ago, have become an integral part of the human communities. They are not only reared but also selected and bred to cooperate and communicate with humans, to predict their behaviour and to learn from them. For those outstanding collaborative capacities in dogs, that distinguish them from other animals, there may be three possible sources:

·      Firstly, they may have inherited a tendency for cooperative and synchronous behaviour from theirwolf-like ancestors… .This ability might have enabled them to easily adapt to their new, human social groups.

·      Secondly, during the course ofdomestication, dogs seem to have developed novel capabilities… which enable them to engage in cooperative and communicative situations with humans … .

·      Thirdly, in their individual life, dogs typically gain experiences and are trained to act cooperatively and in adaptation to human behaviour.

Research at the Clever Dog Lab aims at studying the problem-solvingand learning abilities of dogs, their perception of the environment and their relationships to humans.

Maybe you recall the study about “inequity aversion” in dogs. Scholars at the Clever Dog Lab collaborated with others at the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution & Cognition Research (Altenberg, Austria) on that study. You can read it here.

The Family Dog Project (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary)

The Family Dog Project was established in 1994 as the first research group dedicated to investigate the evolutionary and ethological foundations of dog-human relationship.

The project was initiated by Professor Emeritus Vilmos Csányi together with Antal Dóka, Ádám Miklósi, and József Topál at the Department of Ethology at the Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary.

We hypothesised that dogs have evolved to survive in the anthropogenic environment, and our investigations aim at revealing the contribution of humans and dogs to this long-standing partnership. Thus we are not interested solely in the mental abilities of dogs but in all aspects of human and dog behaviour that have strengthened this bond, and may even expand it further. Surprisingly, in our experience this research does not only reveal important insights on dogs but also on us, people. …

Topics of major interest:

This is a terrific  site! Click on any of the links above for research articles in pdf format.

That’s it for this week! Enjoy!

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7 Responses to “Boulder Dog Weekly Wag: Canine Cognition–Week 2”

  1. Pamela says:

    I guess the fact that I was so disappointed at not being able to read Pat Miller’s article because I was not a WDJ subscriber is a sign I should sign up. :)

    Thanks for the great links. I’ve been following Brian Hare’s work for a while. I especially appreciate that he uses household pets instead of dogs in labs.

  2. Kristine says:

    I was hoping one would be in Canada so I could somehow find a way to worm my way into a visit. I guess I’ll have to satisfy myself with checking out the websites. Thank you so much for passing these on, and for sharing the Pat Miller article!

    I have some serious reading to do!

  3. Hi, I love your blog. Great info. I am a daily painter and I frequently paint dogs. Does anyone have any photos I can paint from? Please email them to me at patti.vincent@hotmail.com. Thanks

  4. It never ceases to amaze me that on the one hand we spend TONS of money on animal and animal-related things (studies, foods, etc.) and yet we still can’t figure out how to stop the over-population of dogs. Sorry, had to vent. The article is interesting!

  5. Julie says:

    Hi there! I am the Lab Manager at Alexandra Horowitz’s Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College in NYC. You have a great blog! Our website is http://www.DogCognition.com

    Some other notable groups investigating dogs are listed on my website:
    http://dogspies.com/Dog_Spies/Science%21.html

    I should say that my list is not exhaustive. There are a number of groups (and individuals) investigating canines from a variety of perspectives — anthrozoology, genetics, veterinary behavior etc. But this is certainly a start!

    Cheers!

    • Hi Julie,

      A VERY belated thank you for your comment and links. I’m hoping to return to blogging this year…..finally after a way too long hiatus.

      I’ll say it one more time. I adore Alexandra. I could listen to her wax eloquently about dogs endlessly.

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