Ask An Expert

At Dognition, we believe that shared inquiry and discovery fuel the greatest benefits for dogs and their owners. Therefore we’ve partnered with the world’s leading canine cognition experts and canine-focused institutions/organizations.

Now, you also have the opportunity to inquire and learn from our experts.

Scientific Advisory Board- The experts on dog cognition and psychology
Dr. Brian Hare
Dr. Juliane Kaminski
Dr. Josep Call
Dr. Richard Wrangham
Dr. Laurie Santos
Dr. Adam Miklosi

Expert Panel- The experts on everything else dog!
Kyra Sundance – Expert Trainer
Victoria Stilwell – Expert Trainer
Nina Ottosson- Dog Toy Designer
Richard Hawkins – Vet
Paul Mundel – Canine Companions of Independence
Betsy Saul – Petfinder Foundation

  1. Cunning Test Question

    On the cunning test, my dog was reliable and didn't take the treat for the entire 90 seconds whether we were looking, back was turned or eyes were covered, but the graph showed her cunning as right in the middle - it seemed to us she was being extremely trustworthy, but the summary didn't agree - what would it take to get placed on the far left side of the trustworthy graph? We know it isn't a competition, this just doesn't seem to make sense so was hoping to get some clarification.

    4 votes
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  2. In the tests my dog chose to always go to the right side. Why?

    While I was doing the tests my dog always chose the right side. In the results he says he got it correct 50% of the time but it was only due to default that the treat was located on the right. What could this mean?

    16 votes
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  3. Does a dog miss another dog that died? Will the dog be sad about it?

    If one dog in a household dies, will the other dogs miss it? Can they get sad or stop eating because of another dog's death?

    67 votes
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  4. Does breed heritage beat temperament?

    My dog is a mix, probably of Boxer and an American Pitbull. She is a very smart and sweet dog at home, but ever since she was attacked by another dog, she developed an aggressive behavior towards other dogs. Could it be because of her Pitbull origins? If so, how do you treat problems that occur as a result of genes?

    17 votes
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  5. Answered- How do dogs express their creativity?

    I heard part of a discussion on NPR of animals and creativity. Well, WHETHER they have it. They seemed to be considering a very human definition of creativity --- making art or music, things like that. My dog makes up games with me and with other dogs. I am wondering whether you have ever investigated how dogs express creativity and how we can help them develop their creativity.

    36 votes
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  6. I have read that the pack concept, the need to be alpha, has been completely debunked. What do you think?

    The pack concept has become bedrock thinking. I have read that it has been debunked. Trainers I have talked to believe the pack concept without question.

    4 votes
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  7. How can I help my sensitive dog relax?

    I have a 6 mo. old puppy named Pepper. She learns very quickly, listens to our commands, and is a very affectionate companion. Pepper is definitely a more submissive dog. Is that something she will "grow out of" or something that we should work on with her?

    For example, Pepper gets very excited to sit and stay for rewards and was really enjoying the assessment. By the second game she started to seem wary of my intentions and eventually stopped listening to my commands and backed away. I've learned to stop the game at that point and let her relax.…

    1 vote
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  8. Do dogs "apologize" to one another?

    Our dog Pike was about 11 years younger than our older dog, Max. When Pike was about 2 years old, there was some kind of "thing" going on be Pike and Max, I think over a toy, if I remember correctly. Pike snapped at Max. Then,withink about 30 seconds or so, Pike seemed to purposely turn around, trot back over to where Max was standing, sort of quickly touch noses with Max, and then walk away. It was almost like a, "Gee, I screwed up when I snapped at you" kind of thing - I realize Pike might have been…

    4 votes
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  9. Sulking Noise

    My dog is a Shepherd and makes a whinging/whistling sound when he is around us but we are not playing with him, when we are in the car driving to a park around the corner or the dog beach or even just after we have been on a walk and put him outside?. Not sure if he is just attention seeking or if he is anxious?

    1 vote
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  10. Why does my dog seem more protective of me (a woman) than my male counterpart?

    When I take my dog out for walks or to the dog park on my own, she's much more likely to act nervously toward strangers and other dogs. For instance, she frequently will get in between me and a stranger, and will sometimes bark. This is behavior she never shows when we both take her someplace, or when my partner takes her out on his own. Do dogs distinguish between gender? Or is it more likely to have to do with size? Does my pup believe that I need protecting more than my partner does?

    3 votes
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  11. Why does my dog ignore me sometimes?

    Sometimes when I give my dog a command, he will ignore me. Why does this happen?

    7 votes
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  12. Have you performed testing on non-spay/neutered dogs and determined any differences in intelligence, problem solving, tracking,etc?

    Most folks spay/neuter their dogs and are encouraged by society to decrease unwanted population, etc. Is there any research that provides clarity on the effects of not having normal hormones (testosterone and estrogen) in adult dogs on their problem solving, intelligence, skills, etc. How does the lack of natural levels of hormones effect their brain and functioning?

    1 vote
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  13. My 7 yr. old adopted spitz/spaniel neutered male shakes uncontrollably when we go anywhere in the car. Any ideas?

    My 7 yr. old spitz/spaniel is terrified of travelling in the car. Would hypnosis help?

    1 vote
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  14. 5 votes
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  15. Do dogs have self esteem?

    I am studying dog motivation and would like to know if dogs have self esteem. I have surveyed several owners and find that owners of more primitive dogs such as Border Collies and GSDs think not while small dog owners such as pugs and other toy dogs say yes. What are your thoughts on this. Many thanks (love Dognition)

    11 votes
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  16. Do dogs pout?

    Every day, when our dog realizes my girlfriend and I are getting ready for work, she plops down in one spot, and just kind of lays there, not really making eye contact, not looking around and not sleeping. Usually, she is attached to us at the hip, actively trying to guard the house or sleeping... is it possible that she's pouting?

    4 votes
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  17. Answered- Is my dog practicing hypnotic suggestion?

    My dog is very good at communicating what she wants. Most of the time her desires are completely reasonable but her method makes me feel as though she has trained me better than I have trained her. She stares very intensely into my eyes. I usually guess what she wants but It feels like she is trying to push her thoughts into my head. What is up with this?

    35 votes
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    Vanessa Woods, Author of the Genius of Dogs answered this month’s question-

    Your dog’s stare can be so hypnotic, it might seem as though she is trying “jedi mind tricks”. But probably more likely is that she is getting a fix of oxytocin.

    Oxytocin is a peculiar little molecule. It is known as the ‘hug hormone’ because it is what makes you feel good when you are touched by a loved one, get a massage, or enjoy a good meal. Oxytocin has pain relieving properties and can also decrease stress and blood pressure.

    We humans experience oxytocin in many of our social relationships, including bonding with our children or partners. What is surprising is that we would also experience a change in this hormone when bonding with a completely different species.

    In a study with 55 dogs from Azabu University in Japan, people whose dogs gazed at them for longer…

  18. Answered- What is the relationship between cognitive style and temperament?

    My two dogs, Mira and Clare came up with the Ace profile, but their personalities are very different. Mira is dominant and Clare is submissive. Mira is high energy, loves to play and retrieve, loves training and seems tireless in training sessions. Clare is more low key, enjoys learning tricks to a point, then wanders away to take a nap. Clare doesn't play much at all, but it's partly because Mira is always trying to take her toys away. Clare seems uninterested in a thrown ball. The two get along well for the most part, but Mira will try to…

    28 votes
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  19. 5 votes
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  20. Answered- Can dogs read people's emotions?

    Research out there says that dogs know what you're feeling and I've noticed that my dog picks up on when someone in the house is mad or sad, but I wanted to know how true this was.

    32 votes
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