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Canine Science - where to start

May 13, 2017 | 5 Minute Read

Some time ago Zazie Todd from Companion Animal Psychology blog reminded me about biological family Canidae and why I like them so much. The reason is her 6 reasons to love canine science article.

Canine Science is a definition used by/for people related to the biology, ecology and behaviour of dogs, wolves and related canids.[1]
My first Canine Science adventure was SPARCS with its fantastic live stream conference presentations thanks to which I could hear and see Patricia McConnell, Alexandra Horowitz, legendary Ray Coppinger or my personal favorite Clyve Wynne.
SPARCS means Society for the Promotion of Applied Research in Canine Science - Research and Education.[2]

Alexandra Horowitz speaks When it comes to describing our potential physical and cognitive capacities, we are individuals first, and members of the human race second. She is a lecturer of psychology, doctor of cognitive science. She studied cognitive processes in humans, rhinos, chimpanzees bonobo and dogs.
Hers Inside of the Dog. What Dogs See is a mandatory position on my shelf. In an engaging way Alexandra talks about things the reader never had a chance to read anywhere else - origin of dogs, each dog sense separately, dog mind and dog emotions. Simultaneously she talks how it is to live in a world of smells, feel emotions with your nose, not seeing all colors and hearing a lot more.
About that book by Alexandra Horowitz I wrote once - The book thanks to which I will never look at my dog the same way as I did before. To this day I remain very impressed by her publication.

John Bradshaw is an anthrozoologist by trade, the founder of Anthrozoology Institute in the University of Bristol.
DOG SENSE. How the New Science of Dog Behavior Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet is a book about the origin of the human’s inseparable companion. The author tries to answer questions what is the dog’s origin, how many there’s connections between the dog and the wolf. He contemplates the two opposite training methods - positive and aversive, puppies socialization, dog brain and again dog senses and emotions. At the end he covers the pool gene problem, the plurality of dog races and the future of the dog as a species.
It’s yet another person supporting the school of positive training. Avoid punishments. Positive motivation is the best method of controlling behavior of the dog.

Stanley Coren is a professor of psychology, researcher and instructor in Vancouver Dog Obedience Training Club. He publishes books and articles both in the field of psychology as in dog science.
How Dogs Think. Understanding the Canine Mind is exactly the book you would expect based on it’s title. The author fluently introduces us to the mind of the dog, each of it’s senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch) and even the hypothetical “sixth sense”. Then he contemplates the dogs personality, his emotional development, the process of learning and finally the existence of dog self-awareness. Examples and study results show that dogs receive stimuli from senses and understand the surrounding world, they solve problems and remember social behaviors, communicate with other dogs, animals, humans. They also confirm the fact that puppy (and growing-up dog) experience may shape the personality of an adult dog in a similar way as inherited genes.
Quoting myself from one of my reviews - Very nicely about the internal dog world. A lot of it could be repeated about people.

Patricia McConnell is a certified behaviorist (CAAB). She writes and publishes books and articles, provides a blog and day-life she runs her own farm and trains dog herding.
The Other End of the Leash is in my opinion a mandatory position among the professional literature about dog knowledge. It’s an emotional and personal lecture written by someone respected by dogwise lovers. From her own perspective explains - adding examples from the real life - the meaning of visual signals and grips for dogs, the body language, communication forms, contents of smells, social behavior, the domination myth, character traits. Not only first impressions but also very comprehensive entry on dog behavior.
Right after reading it I called it A repository of knowledge and subtle language of contemplation in one.

Clyve Wynne is a professor of psychology, director of Canine Science Collaboratory (Arizona State University) and the director of research in Wolf Park (Indiana). Beyond that the co-creator of SPARCS.
Animal Cognition: Evolution, Behavior and Cognition is a very thoroughly written book, complete publishing position, rich with information supported by specific studies and the precise scientific descriptions in pair with bibliography. Authors (it’s a work create by two authors) don’t pose hypotheses or contemplate, they break up into prime factors and analyse - the dog origin, cognitive processes, conception of the world via senses, creating concepts, sense of time and numbers, cognitive mechanism of the reason-cause process, reasoning, navigation, social perception, self-awareness, learning process, memory, communication, language.
My adventure with Clyve Wynne has just started thanks to his absorbing speech live during the SPARCS 2014 conference (video stream) and later by taking part in his seminary in Poland (thanks to COAPE Polska). Currently he is the one of my most respected authorities on the field of animal science.


[1] Canine Science forum
[2] SPARCS Twitter bio