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What’s a Dog For?

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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A few years back, John Homans, former executive editor of New York magazine, published What’s a Dog For? — an intimate reflection on his beloved family dog, Stella, as well as a snapshot into the flourishing field of canine science. Looking down at the wagging tail by your side, you could easily answer the above question. What’s a dog for? Simple. Dogs are our family members and friends, our assistants and fellow-workers, and in some cases, our unexpected mentors. But would you also add ‘enthusiastic science partner’ to the list?

If you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time, ‘enthusiastic science partner’ is a no-brainer, but not everyone is as familiar with this growing trend. Earlier this week, I wrote a word-spreading guest post for PLOS Blogs and SciStarter called Wanted: You and Your Dog! For Science!

Have free time on your hands during the long weekend? Here’s how you can get involved this weekend, or any other time you choose:

NEW PROJECT: Animal Ownership Interaction Study
Do dog owners influence their dog’s behavior? While I’m sure you have your thoughts, researchers are now trying to get a better understanding of this dynamic. This is the focus of a new study between Nicholas Dodman and James Serpell through the Center for Canine Behavior Studies. Read more and get involved.

ONGOING: Dog citizen science projects: Don’t Let These Dog Projects Pass You By, and from Discover: Citizen Science with Our Canine Friends.

With canine science research groups going global, have you participated in any canine science studies, either in-person or online? What did you think?

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Part of this post originally appeared at PLOS BLogs Wanted: You and Your Dog! For Science!

Image: Perry McKenna Presenting Cooper 3/52, Flickr Creative Commons

Julie Hecht About the Author: Julie Hecht is a canine behavioral researcher and science writer in New York City. She would really like to meet your dog. Follow on Twitter @DogSpies.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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