We talk to a lot of amazing scientists and researchers here at Petminded. But, there are some that hold a special place in our hearts because they kicked off our journey of exploring dog cognition! Others stand out in the ideas they research or ways they present findings to their community! This post highlights some of the most influential researchers and contributors to the field.
Brian Hare, PhD
No surprise here, we talk a lot about whether our dogs can understand us and how. Dr. Hare is the "Scientist. Author. Dog Guy" behind all the finger-pointing going around here! In his research, Dr. Hare demonstrated that dogs could follow a person pointing to the location of food better than our closest living ancestors - bonobos and chimpanzees. This has opened a whole line of questioning like, "Why is that? Is it unique to dogs? Are some dogs better at it than others?" Dr. Hare founded the Duke Canine Cognition Center and co-founded Dognition which is series of cognition tests designed to assess your dog's problem-solving abilities. Through his endeavors, he has revealed the unique genius of dogs.
Clive Wynne, PhD
We often like to believe our dogs love us and that this love is unconditional, but Dr. Clive Wynne challenges what this means and for us and to our dogs. Dr. Wynne directs the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University. The group is interested in the lives of dogs and their wild relatives. They are currently working on projects related to welfare in dogs living in shelters and problem behaviors at home in order to help people and dogs live more harmoniously. They are also investigating what cognitive aging looks like in canines!
Books: "Dog is Love"
Monique Udell, PhD
Dr. Udell co-founded the Canine Cognition and Behavior Lab at the University of Florida with Dr. Wynne, and is currently the Director of the Human-Animal Interaction Laboratory at Oregon State. Like the name of her lab, her research interests include exploring the human-animal bond through mutually beneficial interactions, factors influencing the social development of dogs and other domesticated animals, and how we can improve the lives of animals everywhere.
Published Research: Recent article connecting gut microbiome and aggression in dogs
Gregory Berns, PhD
Dogs in an MRI, awake and unrestrained? Who would have thought that was possible! Dr. Berns was the first to train dogs to be able to lie perfectly still in an MRI machine, of their own free will! Not only was this an impressive feat, but it also introduced a new way to explore canine minds. Dr. Berns currently leads the Emory Canine Cognitive Neuroscience lab in Atlanta, Georgia, where he and his team continue to look into the minds of our companions.
Books: "How Dogs Love Us," "What it's like to be a Dog"
TedTalk: How dogs love us
Alexandra (Sasha) Protopopova, PhD
If you're interested in shelter welfare, Dr. Protopopova is who to read. Currently an assistant professor in the Animal Welfare Program at the University of British Colombia, she conducts research on best shelter practices, ways to improve the lives of dogs in shelters, and also working dogs!
Website: None, but here's her google scholar page: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=QzzG6YUAAAAJ&hl=en
Evan Maclean, PhD
Dr. Evan Maclean is currently the Director of the Arizona Canine Cognition Center. Drawing from his background as a primatologist, he co-developed the Dog Dognition Test Battery, which is a series of cognitive tests for dogs. This and its variations of its sub-tests have been used to assess guide dogs, police dogs, shelter dogs, and perhaps even your dog! By using multiple tests, it is possible to see where individual dogs excel in order to be placed in careers where they will thrive. Overall, the lab explores "what makes animal minds the way they are, how they got that way, and why."
Alexandra Horowitz, PhD
Dr. Alexandra Horowitz is the director of the Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab. She is a best-selling author writing about the umwelt of dogs. In her lab, she investigates how dogs use smell to recognize themselves and various anthropomorphisms, such as the "guilty look." Dr. Horowitz has also written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Scientific American!
Learn more here:
Ádám Miklósi, PhD
Dr. Miklósi founded and currently runs the first and largest research group studying the human-dog relationship, the Family Dog Research Group. Their research interest spans from behavior to cognition and beyond to better understand aspects of human and dog behavior that have contributed to this long-lasting partnership. You may have heard of the group's recent project, "The Genius Dog," which investigates word learning in dogs all over the world.
Claudia Fugazza, PhD
It may often seem like there are many different training methods out there, but almost everything is based on basic learning principles or associative learning and conditioning. We know our dogs are always learning, even when we aren't intentionally training them. Dr. Fugazza taps into a dog's natural social cognitive abilities and developed a whole new way to teach dogs. She calls this "Do as I do." In this method, the dog is shown how to do something then is asked to do it! Dr. Fugazza is a researcher with The Family Dog Project at Eötvös Loránd University where she continues to explore imitation and dogs' social cognitive abilities
Books: “Do as I Do. A new training method based on social learning”
There you go, our list of dog scientists doing fascinating research that can help us better understand, care for and train our beloved furry friends!
By the way, we know that we haven't covered all the possible scientists here, but will continue to add to this blog. Feel free to message us on Instagram (link) or send us an email with ideas of whom else to include!