What’s New in Behavior

Gaylord Herald Times Interview

October 24th, 2010  |  Published in What's New in Behavior

Dr. Katherine Houpt was interviewed by Lorene Parshall of the Gaylord Herald Times in the article “Animal behaviorist doesn’t horse around“.

One correction: although Dr. Houpt worked at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine for decades, she received her veterinary degree and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania.

Do big cats like catnip?

August 3rd, 2010  |  Published in What's New in Behavior

You catch more Horses with Honey

June 19th, 2010  |  Published in What's New in Behavior

Most horse training is negative reinforcement. You kick the horse until it moves forward. You pull on the reins until it stops. Once the horse has learned that the kicking will stop when he moves forward much more subtle cues such as a Walk On’ or just a squeeze of the legs can be substitutes. Positive reinforcement-giving a treat when the animal performs a task is very popular among dog trainers, but not horse trainers. A recent paper found that yearling horses given grain after they stood still learned to stay more quickly, remembered longer and were more friendly to humans than ones taught with no reward.

Positive interactions lead to lasting positive memories in horses,Equus caballus. Carol Sankey, Marie-Annick Richard-Yris, Hélène Leroya, Séverine Henry, Martine Hausberger Animal Behaviour 79 (2010) 869–875

Handedness in Dogs

March 25th, 2010  |  Published in What's New in Behavior

Dogs-like people-are handed, that is they prefer to use one paw or the other. You can test your dog to see if he or she is right pawed or left pawed. Observe the paw used to overturn a can under which a treat has been hidden or which paw he uses to hold a toy. Also see which paw is used when the dog is told to “Shake“ or “Give paw”.

Female dogs usually have a greater preference for using their right paw on all tasks. Males dogs are more apt to use their left paw. Ambidextrous dogs sometimes have behavior problems. Let me know which paw your dog prefers to use.