Reading Science is Good for Your Pet

It's a dog’s life: science is informing us about ways our pets thrive - and help us in return.

Everyone thinks STEM is important. Science literacy (that is, being able to read about and interpret science, and learning to distinguish truth from myth) is a big part of that—your teachers and parents will be quick to remind you.

Reading about your pets is good for you

Now, research is showing that reading about pet science can improve their health, mental health, and happiness... and our own.

Encouragingly, there's a lot of science about this! Researcher and author Greg Berns, M.D., Ph.D., of Emory University is studying dog's brains in scanners to see what they respond to and what areas of their brains are working. This has implications for training, health and developing stronger bonds between dogs and their owners.

It isn't just canine neuroscience either! Psychological research is increasingly showing the kinds of environments and behaviors that help our dogs (and cats, horses and, presumably guinea pigs!) thrive.

One of the important things our pets need us to understand is that positive psychology is always the best approach to training pets. Rewarding pets for good behavior promotes a good bond with their humans. Aversive training—punishing bad behavior through threat or physical violence—constitutes animal cruelty and fosters fear or aggression in return.

(BTW, hate to draw the obvious parallel here, but reward for good behavior versus punishing bad behavior has much the same effect in humans!)

It's also a way to see the areas dogs can be trained to help humans in all kinds of situations—from sniffing out bombs to providing companionship to elderly or isolated people, to helping people with disabilities navigate safely.

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