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We wish all our readers a happy and healthy 2015!
These are our most-read posts of the year. There's been a lot of competition at the top of this chart! Which stories were your favourites? And which topics would you like to read more about in future? Please let us know by leaving a comment below, or on twitter or facebook.
1. How Does a Dog's Brain Respond to the Smell of a Familiar Human?
New fMRI research shows that the smell of a familiar person elicits a strong response in the canine brain.
2. Do Dogs get that Eureka! Feeling?
Does successful problem-solving make dogs happy? Research by McGowan et al investigates if dogs prefer their rewards to be earned. This post was our Companion Animal Science News of the Year for the Science Borealis Blog Carnival.
3. Dog Training, Animal Welfare and the Human-Canine Relationship
Observations of dogs at training classes using either positive reinforcement or punishment support the idea that using rewards in training is good for the dog-owner relationship.
4. Do Dogs with Baby Expressions get Adopted Sooner, and What Does it Say about Domestication?
Theories about the domestication of dogs from wolves suggest that baby-like faces are a by-product of humans selecting for other features. But is it possible they were deliberately selected?
5. Is it Important to Attend Puppy Class?
Is a one-off puppy party a good alternative to a 6-week puppy class? Research by Kutsumi et al (2013) finds it doesn't have the same benefits.
6. Do Children Benefit from Animals in the Classroom?
Researchers investigate whether an eight-week program involving a guinea pig in class leads to improved social skills and a reduction in problem behaviours
7. Is Cruelty to Animals in Childhood a Predictor of Later Criminal Behaviour?
How many children are cruel to animals? Is it linked to criminal behaviour as an adult, and does it persist through the generations?
8. Do Puppy Tests Predict Adult Dog Behaviour?
A new study tests border collies as neonates, puppies, and adult dogs, to find out if personality tests predict adult dog behaviour.
9. The Adolescent Dog: One Last Chance?
A synthesis of the latest research on social influences on development suggests adolescence is an important time for mammals – including dogs.
Dogs that are deaf and/or blind can make great pets, according to a survey that found they are rated as less aggressive and less excitable than other dogs. Enrichment is important, such as with toys, training, or flyball classes.