New Study Suggests Re-Thinking How You Train Your Dog

black-pitbull-dog-pictures-galleryThose of us who know and love dogs don't need scientific proof that dogs love us. But the results of a recent study may provide hard evidence that dogs are capable of feeling complex emotions, particularly love and attachment.

Emory University neuroscientist Gregory Burns and his colleagues analyzed the results of brain scans on dozens of dogs. This was the first time that scans were able to be completed on dogs that were not under any type of anesthesia. The scientists wanted to study how the dog's brain functions when presented with different stimuli, which would be impossible with an anesthetized dog.

The study's findings may not be surprising to many of us, but they certainly affirm the fact that dogs do feel love and attachment towards humans. The study showed that the caudate, the area of the brain in humans that is activated when humans feel love, also activates in dogs when their owner returns after a brief separation.

Burns concludes that these findings suggest that dogs have a level of sentience comparable to that of a human child, which calls for a rethinking of how we treat dogs. For me, the study validates the importance of using positive training methods and further fuels the battle against shock collars and other aversive devices. Since dogs have an incredible ability to think and learn, we should harness those abilities through force-free training, rather than subject them to unnecessary and ineffective aversive training methods that only serve to shut down their desire to think and learn.

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  1. Robyn Abels

    January 21st, 2014 at 11:04 am

    The book, "How Dogs Love Us," was written by Gregory Berns. It's a great read and I highly recommend it!

  2. Nina Cole

    January 22nd, 2014 at 4:40 am

    For anyone to say that dogs do not have feelings, is an excuse for some people to justify their lack of sympathy for these wonderful & loyal animals.

    Didn't Charles Darwin first write about the possibility that animals do in fact display emotions!

    You only have to watch a dog response to their owners moods. They may not speak our language, but their feelings are expressed from the wag of their tail to the expression in their eyes.

  3. debra

    January 22nd, 2014 at 2:53 pm


  4. Charlotte Ewaskow

    January 30th, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    I have seen dogs morn for owners an morn for other animals . I have seen my dog read me better then any person ... in order to read how I feel they have to be aware of feeling .. to be aware you have to know what they mean . Dogs read people all the time ! I agree !!

  5. chip

    January 31st, 2014 at 6:03 am

    Just finishes reading an eBook, 'Chaser', the longitudinal study on won learning and acquisition of language (over 1000 words, including verbs), eerily similar, and a great read.

  6. chip

    January 31st, 2014 at 6:04 am

    dog learning, damned tablet!

  7. Fioan De Rosa

    January 31st, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Thanks for sharing this research.

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