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JoAnna Lou
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Playing with Our Pups
Dog Cognition Lab is looking for play videos
Three of the participants in the human-canine play study.

A couple years ago, I brought my two Shelties to the Harvard Canine Cognition Lab to participate in a study on dogs’ understanding of human gestures.  Boston isn’t exactly close, but I was happy to drive the three hours to check out the research being done on the canine brain.

As pets become a bigger part of our lives, universities are getting more funding to understand what going on in our dogs’ heads.  Schools with canine cognition programs include Harvard, Barnard, Duke, University of Florida, Eckerd, and University of Kentucky.

Canine cognition labs are always looking for dogs to participate in their research, but for those not willing to travel, now you can participate in a study without leaving the comfort of home.

The Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College in New York is currently looking at play between canines and humans.  To participate you need to complete a short survey and upload a 30-60 second video of you and your dog playing.  They’re interested in seeing how people typically play with their pets and are not looking for any specific style.

Past research at Barnard has included studying olfactory discrimination, anthropomorphisms (such as the concept of “fairness” and the “guilty look”), use of attention and play signals in social play, and communication between dogs.

I think the human-canine play study will be particularly interesting since the videos will allow people and dogs around the world to participate.  And it’s a cool way to bring animal lovers together in the name of scientific research… not to mention while having fun playing with our dogs!

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Photo from the Barnard Dog Cognition Lab.

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