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© 2016 by Lee Charles Kelley.

June 29, 2019

Dogs Have an Amazing Sense of Smell, But Do They Understand Our Words?

Does Your Dog Really Know What "Sit!" Means?

“Most scientists who talk about dogs have their scientist hat and their dumb hat,” says Gustavo Aguirre, a veterinary ophthalmologist ... “And whenever they start talking about dogs, they put on their dumb hat. They say things that as scientists they have to know can’t possibly be right.” (“The Truth About Dogs,” Stephen Budiansky, The Atlantic...

August 11, 2017

Holding a Mirror Up to Science and Nature: Can Dogs Pass the "Mirror Test?"

Throwing Water on His Enthusiasm 
When “The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness” was made on July 12th last year, I refrained from making any critical comments in deference to Marc Bekoff, my (then) colleague at PsychologyToday.com. I didn’t want to throw any water on his enthusiasm by writing a more realistic assessment (such as the one found here).


What is the declaration? You c...

A Distant Feeling

If you’ve read my previous posts on telepathy in dogs, you know that the term telepathy is a portmanteau word cobbled from the Greek for distant (tele) and feeling (pathy). It was coined in 1882 by Frederic W. H. Myers, a founder of the Society for Physical Research.

According to Wikipedia, “Telepathy experiments have historically been criticized for lack of proper controls and repeatability. There is no convincing evidence that telepathy ex...

January 6, 2017

Canine Smarts or Self-Emergent Behavior?

Originally published in different form on October 26, 2011 at PsychologyToday.com.

"Hello, Doggie!"

In recent years researchers in the field of what I like to call dognitive science seem to have made some tremendous insights into canine intelligence and cognition, some of them real, some imaginary, but all very interesting nonetheless.

Dogs are amazing animals. They have an ability to read us like no other species can. S...

January 3, 2017

If Dogs Can’t Think, How Do They Know What We’re Thinking?

Dogs are amazing animals. They have an ability to read us like no other species can. Sometimes they know more about us than we know about ourselves. They also score higher on certain so-called “mind-reading” tests than chimpanzees, where the goal is to see which animal can more reliably follow a visual cue given by a human being points at or even looks at an object. Dogs can learn to do this quite ea...

January 3, 2017

And Is There a Difference Between Grief and Feelings of Loss?

Originally published in slightly different form on September 1, 2011 at PsychologyToday.com.

The popular website, IFL Science, recently posted a piece on grief in dogs “Why Do Dogs Sometimes Wait for Years by the Graves of Their Owners?” featuring stories told by Dr. Stanley Coren.

One of the stories Coren tells is about Hawkeye, a Labrador retriever who reportedly attended his master's funeral in 2...

January 2, 2017

Field of Vision vs Line of Sight

What People Notice That Dogs Don’t, What Dogs Notice That People Don’t

Theory of mind is a scientific construct developed by David Premack and Guy Woodruff. There are essentially three levels. The first level is the capacity to know that other beings have the same sensory abilities that you do, which carries with it the capacity to realize that others may also see, hear, feel and experience things differently from the way you...

January 2, 2017

If Dogs Can't Think, How Do They Know What We're Thinking? 

Dognitive scientist Brian Hare's new book is getting some press these days. There was a recent piece in the New York Times on his work showing that dogs will follow where a human points while chimps not only won't, but can't seem to learn how to.

Alexandra Horowitz of Barnard College was quoted in the Times article: “To me, part of being a dog scientist is acknowledging up front how little we know...

January 2, 2017

Or Unconscious Expressions of Stress?

Lip Licking Is Often an Indicator of Stress

Dogs & Humans, Similarities & Differences

Dogs and humans share certain commonalities. Both species started as group predators who hunted animals larger and more dangerous than themselves. In fact dogs, wolves, and humans are the only land mammals who have this characteristic. (Some members of the dolphin family do too.)

However, there are there are three abilities that set hu...

December 1, 2016

Three Simple Reasons Why Dogs Don’t Feel Guilt

I Didn't Mean to Do It!

“We Don’t Know If Dogs Feel Guilt, So Stop Saying They Don’t”

In a May 22, 2016 post at PsychologyToday.com  Dr. Marc Bekoff writes, “According to Dr. Susan Hazel, a veterinary scientist at the University of Adelaide, ‘There have been a number of studies, and it’s pretty clear that dogs don’t feel or display guilt. It’s not the way their brains work.’”

Bekoff rightly disagrees. “There a...

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