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Sarah-Elizabeth Byosiere brought her lifelong love of dogs to college and found her niche through decoding dog behavior and cognition. She continued these studies in graduate school and she shares her love and knowledge with lucky listeners in today’s podcast.

Listen and learn

  • Why dog play is considered interesting from an evolutionary standpoint and what Dr. Byosiere’s research about the dog-play bow indicates,
  • What dog behaviors are explained by relatively new research, such as their vision, abilities to discern context-specific cues, and communication, and
  • How her group is working on improving the lives of shelter dogs and other current projects.

Dr. Byosiere is the director of the Thinking Dog Center at CUNY Hunter College.

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She brings a tremendous amount of knowledge to this podcast, sharing a variety of findings sure to interest dog lovers and listeners interested in animal behavior. Her initial research centered on dog social behavior as she explored the dog-play bow and what it might indicate. This classic dog pose is one of several familiar dog behavior signs thought to indicate play, but her work found it also indicates a pause or transition of activity. 

She discusses other fascinating dog traits and understandings of dog body language. Listeners may not realize that dog cognition and behavior studies really only started booming in the last 20 years, she adds, so there’s much to learn. For example, dogs are really proficient at reading human cues that we might think are simple but require a complexity. This complexity is manifested in their ability to figure out context-specific cues, which even young children aren’t able to do.

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They’ve evolved to be highly attentive to our human body language, not just to other dog signals and dog facial expressions.

She and Richard explore numerous behaviors observed in their own dogs, comparing them to what research indicates, covering topics like the flehmen response, their neophilic tendencies, their scent capabilities and vapor wakes, and their vision. She discusses current projects as well, such as improving the lives of shelter dogs—they’re investigating easy and inexpensive methods to implement in shelters to improve the dog’s experience.

For more, follow her on Twitter as @sebyosiere and see the website for the Thinking Dog Center at Hunter College. The center is also active on Instagram and Twitter.

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