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A big thank you to all of our readers! We wish you a very happy and healthy 2014!!
The most popular posts of the year were:
1. Are Young Children More Interested in Animals Than Toys?
A set of three studies by Vanessa LoBue et al looked at young children in a naturalistic play environment in which they could choose to interact with animals or toys.
2. The End for Shock Collars?
Research funded by Defra in the UK found that electronic collars do not work better than positive reinforcement training for recall and chasing, and have negative welfare consequences for some dogs, even when used by qualified trainers. In addition, "some end-users either fail to read the instructions, misunderstand or deliberately disregard the advice in the manuals."
3. How Do Hand-Reared Wolves and Dogs Interact with Humans?
The question of how dogs evolved from wolves is complicated, but it is clear there are important differences that could arise from genetics, domestication, experience, or a combination of these. A study by Marta Gácsi in Budapest investigates whether dogs and hand-reared wolves behave the same during a changing social situation with a human.
4. Will Grey Parrots Share?
A fascinating study by Franck Péron and colleagues looks at the question of whether or not grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus) will share, with each other or with a human.
5. Why Do People Surrender Dogs to Animal Shelters?
Five to seven million companion animals arrive at animal shelters in the US each year, and about half of these are animals being surrendered by their owners. Why do people surrender their pets? To find out, a study by Jennifer Kwan and Melissa Bain compared dogs being relinquished at three Sacramento animal shelters to those dogs that were there simply to receive their vaccinations.
6. Do Dogs Try to Hide Theft of Food?
Will your dog steal food even if you can see or hear the theft take place? Two studies investigate whether dogs can take a human’s perspective in deciding whether to take a piece of forbidden food.
7.Is Attachment to Pet Dogs Linked to their Behaviour?
Some people are more attached to their dogs than others. Recently, we wrote about a study that found that people who relinquished their dog to animal shelters had lower attachment to them than people who were keeping their dog (see no 5 above). Now, a study by Christy Hoffman et al asks whether there is a link between a dog’s behaviour and how attached the owner is to the dog.
8. Why are some Breeds of Dog more Popular than Others?
There are so many breeds of dog, it can be hard to choose which one you'd like most. Some are always popular, while other breeds rise or fall in popularity. A new study by Stefano Ghirlanda et al 2013 investigates whether changes in the most popular breeds over the years reflect personality characteristics, health, or fashion.
9. Do Dogs Find Their Owner's Presence Supportive When a Threatening Stranger Comes Near?
How does your dog compare to a toddler? Recent animal research is comparing the abilities of dogs with young humans. A study by Márta Gácsi et al in Hungary investigates whether dogs have the same response as infants to a test called the Strange Situation.
10. Stereotypes and Breeds of Dog
Can social psychological theories of stereotypes about people also explain people’s attitudes and stereotypes of different breeds of dog? That’s the fascinating question posed in a new study by Tracey Clarke, Jonathan Cooper and Daniel Mills of the University of Lincoln
What were your favourites? And are there any topics you would particularly like to see covered next year?
Photo credits: 1. oksankash. 2. Ksenia Raykova. 3. Dennis Donohue. 4. Eric Isselee. 5. rashworth. 6. Anneka. 7. Igor Normann. 8. bikeriderlondon. 9. Raywoo. 10. dezi. All: Shutterstock.