The remains of two Late Bronze Age initiation ceremonies have been discovered at Krasnosamarskoe in southwestern Russia.  Among the finds include bones from dogs and wolves believed to have been eaten during rites of passage in which teenage boys became ‘wolf-men’ warriors.  The bones, dated between 3,900 and 3,700 years ago, may be the first […]

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Over the last decade interest in family ancestry has surged – websites such as Ancestry.com and shows including Who Do You Think You Are? have fuelled this.  Just as humans have DNA, so do dogs with each breed having a distinctive set of markers.  It was only a matter of time that curiosity would stretch […]

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Genetic variants may explain why dogs are friendly to humans

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In recent years, advances in genetic research have led to the discovery of genes involved in dog traits that include; coat colour, size and personality.  Now scientists have found structural variants in genes on chromosome 6 which is associated with human-directed social behaviours, which may explain why dogs are typically friendly to humans. The study, […]

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Sniffing out Parkinson’s disease

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The research charity Medical Detection Dogs is partnering with Manchester University to determine whether dogs can sniff out Parkinson’s disease. In recent years, dogs have been reported to alert their owners to health problems that, in some cases, have turned out to be cancer.  (Click here to read about my personal experience of this).  Consequently, […]

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Domestic violence and its links with pets

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In 2016, The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) released figures that showed an estimated 1.8 million adults aged 16 to 59 were a victim of domestic abuse.  In many cases, women were more likely to report having experienced domestic abuse than men.  In 2016, it was estimated that 11m (40% of) UK households have […]

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Canine predatory chase behaviour

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When Fenton, the black Labrador, chased deer in Richmond Park hotly pursued by his frantic owner a few years ago, he become an instant social media star.  His owner repeatedly called after Fenton but the dog kept running; this video (see below) illustrates canine predatory chase, one of dogs’ natural behaviours but one that can […]

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Deception in dogs

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A new study by Heberlein et al. (2017) suggests dogs have the ability to deceive. Honesty in animal signals is an important aspect of communication whether that is information about a prey’s unprofitability, a mate’s fitness or both, the message they transmit may determine the evolution of intricate relationships amongst species.  Thus signals can be […]

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Oldest evidence of the human-canine relationship

When a puppy was found buried with a human skeleton in 1978 at a site called Ain Mallaha in Israel, it was estimated to be around 8,000 to 10,000 years old. The image (see left) shows the skeleton – thought to be a village elder – resting his hand protectively on top of the puppy’s […]

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Don’t be a Jim – NRMs in training

Just as the sound of fingernails running down a blackboard sends tingles down my spine and raises the hair on the back of my head, the words “no” or “ah-ah” during training have a similar effect. Often used to inform the dog it’s got something wrong, in the training world these are referred to as […]

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Dogs and toddlers – similarities in cooperative communication

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A new study by the University of Arizona has further highlighted the similarities in cooperative communication skills between dogs and toddlers. The researchers studied 552 dogs including; pet, assistance and bomb-detection dogs of varying breeds.  Firstly, the team assessed the dogs’ social cognition through a number of game-related tests, hiding treats and toys, then communicated […]

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