Since 2013, Scientific American has been home to the Dog Spies blog. My beat is simple: Report on the booming field of dog behavior, cognition, and welfare research—studies that matter to the dogs in our beds.
While the Dog Spies blog will no longer be part of the Scientific American blogroll, studies of our best friend aren’t going away, and neither am I. Keep up with my writing and events at www.DogSpies.com. For day-to-day dog science, stay in touch with me on social media: Facebook Dog Spies and Do You Believe in Dog?, Twitter Dog Spies and Do You Believe in Dog?, and Instagram Dog Spies. As always, I look forward to talking dogs with you!
But first, let’s look back. Throughout the last six years, we’ve learned a thing or two together. Science is a process of investigation and discovery. At times, it confirms what dog lovers have always suspected. Other times, it flips a switch and points us in an entirely new direction, even altering what we thought we knew.
Regardless of its direction, dog science matters. As a result of studies making their way out of academic journals and into the broader conversation, dog lovers now have a better sense of who dogs are and how to care for them. Many people now acknowledge and provide for dogs’ emotional and mental needs. People increasingly use training methods that enhance, as opposed to compromise, dog learning and their relationships with their people. In short, the scientific study of dogs can help dogs and humans.
Below are some of my most notable posts spanning seven timeless topics that show us who dogs are and how to best care for them.
Dogs are obsessed with dog urine, so I am too. Since there isn’t one answer to the question, “What does dog urine mean to dogs?” I give you dogs’ take on urine in three parts.
Small Dogs Aim High When They Pee
Canine Urination 101: Handstands and Leg Lifts are Just the Basics
Do Dogs Know Themselves—In Their Pee?
Farts are not just silly ha-has for the privacy of our homes. What are dog farts made of, and can they be made less stinky? In this post, a dog fart suit and an odor judge come to our aid to answer these timeless questions.
Things to Know on Dog Farting Awareness Day
Like farts and pee, over the years I keep writing about dog fear. Probably because, like farts and pee, fear can pop out at any time and is all around us. And maybe like farts, it can be deadly. If you think you know fear, please double check.
The Scariest Thing, According to Dogs
Good (and Bad) Ways to Help a Dog Afraid of Fireworks
Can Dog Bite Prevention Actually Prevent Dog Bites?
Could Our Love of Dogs Obscure Their Most Important Parts?
About That Premature Graying…
Humans continually speculate about why dogs do what they do, but are our assessments always on point? When researchers examined rolling over in play and the dog’s “guilty look,” they found that our interpretations can be off. We can also misjudge when dogs should say “Hello!” to other dogs. These posts will help you get on the dog’s page.
Why Do Dogs Roll Over During Play?
The Guilty Looking Companion
Only You Can Prevent the Sniffing of Guide Dogs' Butts
WHERE IS MY MIND?
Since 2013, Dog Spies has covered many studies about what dogs know and think. Here are a few favorites.
Do Dogs Know Other Dogs Are Dogs?
What Do Dogs See in Mirrors?
Memory Wins When Dogs Sleep
When We're Angry, Dogs Get the Feels
Does My Dog Love Me?
Do Dogs Always Prefer Their Owners?
When Dogs Hear a Growl, They Know What to Do
How to Teach Language to Dogs
Dogs Process Language Like Us, But What Do They Understand?
Dogs Look to People to Figure Out How to Respond to the Crazy Green Monster
It's Not You It's Me: If a Dog Won't Play With You, It Could Be Your Fault
STRANGE BUT TRUE
I’ll let these posts speak for themselves…
Why Do Dogs Love Snow?
Why Some Dogs Hate Snow
Okay, So Some Dogs Eat Poop
Should Pets Be Given As Gifts?
Why the World's Longest Treadmill Was Created for Wolves
One Day, You Will Smell Like a Dead Chicken
A LIFE WORTH LIVING
As much as people profess love for dogs, we also sometimes compromise their well-being. I assume you’re not planning to clone your dog, but even so, my post on dog cloning is timeless because it details how welfare issues can crop up where you’d least expect. It also tragically shows how the love of one dog can impair the welfare of many. Similarly, in some countries, cosmetic dog surgeries are still rampant. “Merely physical” alterations can have unexpected consequences for dog behavior and welfare. Of course, there are also times we make dogs’ lives better, like when science enters animal shelters and when we use scientific findings to give dogs what they want.
The Hidden Dogs of Dog Cloning
Tail Docking and Ear Cropping Affect Dogs, and Not Just Physically
The History of Science in Animal Shelters
When Pets Hear, “It’s Your Choice”
Make Sense of Scents: How to Make Your Dog Happy
Studies Find Dogs Prefer New Toys, But You Can Make Old Toys New
I’d like to thank the editors and staff at Scientific American as well as the researchers who fielded questions and reviewed posts over the years.
And remember: dog science is here to stay. To keep up with canine science, check out these ongoing blogs: The Other End of the Leash by Patricia McConnell, Companion Animal Psychology by Zazie Todd, What My Dogs Teach Me by Eileen Anderson, The Science Dog by Linda Case, Decoding Your Pet by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, and Do You Believe in Dog? curated by Mia Cobb and yours truly. Cat lovers should check out Cats and Squirrels and Other Important Things by Mikel Delgado.
Thank you for spying on dogs with me!