Please Explain: The Inner Lives of Dogs

Friday, September 09, 2011

For many of us, dogs are loyal friends and companions, but we know very little about how they see the world. On this week's Please Explain, we look at what we know about how dogs perceive the world and how dogs can be trained to help in search and rescue efforts.We’re joined by John Bradshaw, the Director of the Anthrozoology Institute at the University of Bristol and the author of Dog Sense: How the New Science of Dog Behavior Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet and Alexandra Horowitz, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Barnard College and Director of the Dog Cognition Lab and the author of Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know.


John Bradshaw and Alexandra Horowitz

Comments [30]

enricopallazzo from Westchester Cty

Such a frustrating segment! It was just too peripheral.
How about a follow-up segment focusing on Separation Anxiety in dogs - something so many of us are trying to manage and something Mr. Bradshaw has extensively researched?
Or the most common dog behaviors that humans misunderstand or the most common mistakes humans make with regard to dogs and their training?

Sep. 09 2011 01:58 PM
Don from Brooklyn

It's interesting that both of the experts in this segment refer to animal caregivers as "owners," especially given the efforts in the animal-rights community to get away from that kind of labeling--or thinking (as though animals were human property...). Also, one of the experts commented that animals have no concept of death, which goes against a lot of new research, particularly that on elephants, in which it is becoming ever more clear that animals do indeed have a sense of the ultimate loss.

Sep. 09 2011 12:43 PM
Adam from East Village

You should do the research before you make uneducated remarks about pitbulls biting children. I have worked for an animal shelter for many years and have countless hours working with what most people refer to as pitbulls. They are fine, misunderstood dogs.
Statistically they are less likely to bite than most other breeds. Do the research, educate yourself and then speak.

Sep. 09 2011 12:40 PM
Meg from Brooklyn

My dog (a golden retriever) will jump up and wrap her front paws around me whenever I notice and point out to her the presence of an insect (fly, cockroach, etc.). If I try to get her to jump up on me in this way without a bug, she doesn't, but with bugs it never fails. It couldn't be that she's afraid of bugs, I know, but that's what it feels like. Any thoughts?

Sep. 09 2011 12:39 PM
Jay Murray from Bushwick

So can we please hear more about Dr. Bradshaw's findings vis-a-vis preventing doggy separation disorders?

Sep. 09 2011 12:37 PM
Henry from Manhattan

Interesting that this topic on dogs on Leonard Lopate followed a segment of artificial meat on Brian Lerher.

People wince at artificial meat, they want real meat. Draw the line and on to a conversation about dogs. But there is an underlying commonality of the subjects that goes unnoticed.

Just thought it was an odd topic transition.

Sep. 09 2011 12:36 PM
Marie M. Merzon from Kent Cliffs, NY

Our Standard Poodles understand the concept of "Time Out" and often discipline themselves, after mischief (removing the sofas's cushions, et al) and go into the bathroom and sit until all is forgiven and they are summoned out. Brilliant!

Sep. 09 2011 12:35 PM
Meredith from Park slope

When I first got my Shihtzu Chaplin he had terrible separation anxiety. I found that by first always saying the same phrase (in this case "back soon") and giving him a chew treat (to both give him something to look forward to as well as occupy him for a while) helped significantly. Now he almost looks forward to it!

Thanks so very much for this excellent subject and program!

Sep. 09 2011 12:34 PM
JFreely from New York City

2 Questions on Separation Anxiety:

1. Is a barking collar helpful and / or do you believe it's cruel?

2.There are also plug-in barking prevention devices which emit unpleasant tones dogs don't like after barking; you plug the device into an outlet.

Sep. 09 2011 12:34 PM

I have a deaf dog. can you please discuss dogs with disabilities?

Sep. 09 2011 12:31 PM

Please discuss various dog psychology methods.. Ian Dunbar, Cesar Millan, etc...

Sep. 09 2011 12:31 PM

I love this discussion.

The contrast between our anthropomorphism and reality is fascinating.


Sep. 09 2011 12:31 PM
Craid from Brooklyn

Is there more to marking territory with urine? Do they communicate that way, too?

Sep. 09 2011 12:29 PM

How is it possible that dogs have "bred in" behavior? Would a herding dog who never saw another dog herding still show herding behavior? Is it truly built in to their genes? How?

Sep. 09 2011 12:29 PM
Tom Dale Keever from Manhattan

Two Creatures

Billy Collins

The last time I looked, the dog was lying
on the freshly cut grass
but now she has moved under the picnic table.

I wonder what causes her to shift
from one place to another,
to get up for no apparent reason from her spot

by the stove, scratch one ear,
then relocate, slumping down
on the other side of the room by the big window,

or I will see her hop onto the couch to nap
then later find her down
on the Turkish carpet, her nose in the fringe.

The moon rolls across the night sky
and stops to peer down at the earth,
and the dog rolls through these rooms

and onto the lawn, pausing here and there
to sleep or to stare up at me, head in her paws,
to consider the scentless pen in my hand

or the open book on my lap.
And because her eyes always follow me,
she must wonder, too, why

I shift from place to place,
from the couch to the sink
or the pencil sharpener on the wall -

two creatures bound by wonderment
though unlike her, I have never once worried
after letting her out the back door

that she would take off in the car
and leave me to die
behind the solid locked doors of this house.

Sep. 09 2011 12:29 PM
Maria from Manhattan

@ Claire

I seem to recall reading that dingos too, like Indian pariah dogs, are supposed to have a genetic relation to Basenjis

Sep. 09 2011 12:28 PM

How is it possible that dogs have "bred in" behavior? Would a herding dog who never saw another dog herding still show herding behavior? Is it truly built in to their genes? How?

Sep. 09 2011 12:28 PM
Michelle from Brooklyn

Please discuss dogs in combat. I find it fascinating that dogs will jump out of planes.\

Sep. 09 2011 12:27 PM
Donna from Astoria

Do dogs have set stages of developent in puppyhood? I heard that there is a specific socialization period when a dog must be exposed to a variety of people/things, and if this period is missed, a dog will never become socialized.

Sep. 09 2011 12:27 PM

How is it possible that dogs have "bred in" behavior? Would a herding dog who never saw another dog herding still show herding behavior? Is it truly built in to their genes? How?

Sep. 09 2011 12:27 PM
Jean Freely from NYC

Cesar Milan stresses the dog owner to be alpha. Do you disagree?

Sep. 09 2011 12:26 PM
madeline from new york, new york county, new york, usa

one, no one ever tied up a cat ! if you spent time with cats you would know they would go crazy and practically strangle themselves! I'm sure they were just kept shut in graineries at times and encouraged to stick around by being fed cats bring mice to their owners as prizes, and to their young to teach them how to hunt. and keeping some of their offspring.

There is a theory that wolves were attracted to the garbage piles outside ancient cities like Rome. I think it is likely the people in the cities and villages benefitted from the barking and howling of those wolves when strangers approached, and eventually the people started feeding them. I think it is unlikely people collected baby animals-there is no place more dangerous than between a baby and its mother-but they may have taken babies parted from an injured or missing parent.

Sep. 09 2011 12:24 PM
Carolyn from upper east side manhattan

My friend moved to the southern US two years ago; she is blind and I knew her service dog, LIBBY, very well. To this day, her dog recognizes my VOICE on the PHONE; LICKS THE RECEIVER when I say hello to Libby.

Sep. 09 2011 12:22 PM
Marty Lubin from Jackson Heights

Is a dog's olfactory world three-dimensional? Can they sense the direction a smell is coming from?

I nose-licking a wind-direction indicator as humans moisten a finger?

Sep. 09 2011 12:21 PM
Davi from Manhattan

All the information I've researched on cats, via the internet, says they were self domesticated. Please do a show on cats in order to add alternatives to your "experts" theory.

Sep. 09 2011 12:20 PM
Matt from Brooklyn

I've always been interested - how did we learn that dogs are colorblind?

Sep. 09 2011 12:17 PM
Richie from Montclair

I once heard dogs described as wolves that with a high degree of neotony. Comment?

Sep. 09 2011 12:16 PM

is a dingo a dog?

Sep. 09 2011 12:15 PM
Phoebe from Bushwick

Please do a segment like this for cats!

Sep. 09 2011 12:13 PM
Maria from Manhattan

Is it true that the Basenji breed is very closely related genetically to the so-called Indian pariah dogs one sees on the streets there?

If so, does that imply that they would also be very similar in temperament?

Thank you.

Sep. 09 2011 12:12 PM

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