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Study Shows Wolves Are Better Than Dogs At Learning From One Another

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dog opening boxDogs may be a man’s best friend, but that friendship may have come at a price. A new study published in PLOS One indicates that when we domesticated dogs, we made them less able to learn from each other.

Don’t get me wrong, dogs are awesomely trainable. Before the Superbowl I was watching some kind of dog-lympics, where dogs performed crazy choreographed routines involving Frisbees. And let’s not forget seeing-eye dogs, drug and bomb sniffing dogs, and all the other kinds that demonstrate just how intelligent they are. But the thing is, as dogs have adapted to our teachings, they’ve stopped learning how to imitate one another.

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Dress Your Dogs Like Members Of Starfleet

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Cosplay is big among human nerds. Dressing like your favorite sci-fi villain, comic book hero, or video game character for conventions or premieres is standard operating procedure at this point. Cosplay for pets is nothing new. I worked at a natural pet food store for years, and there was a couple in our neighborhood with two Chihuahuas they routinely dressed up as Jedi Knights, and I’ve been known to dress my dogs up for Halloween and Seahawks games. But that wasn’t enough for Seattle-area company A Crowded Coop, oh no, they took things to a whole new level with their line of Star Trek inspired toys, clothes, and accessories.

Brandy Tanner and Mike Capp stopped by New Day, a local morning show, to flaunt some of their new wares. They really went all out for this. There’s big dog beg shaped like Kirk’s captain chair from the Enterprise, as well as a chew toy that resembles the Federation flag ship. There’s also a redshirt chew toy, so even your dog, as their ripping the guts out of the hapless crewmember, will know that those poor, poor bastards are doomed.

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Magnetism May Determine Your Dog’s Pooping Habits

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PoopLast year, scientists found that dung beetles use the Milky Way to navigate and that crow poop contains antibiotic-resistant genes, so it’s not like this is our first post about poop. This may also be the strangest feces-related story yet, but I suppose that’s science for you. What I want to know is how someone first came up with a theory that Earth’s magnetic field might determine where dogs like to dump.

It’s true that dogs exhibit seemingly random behavior when they sniff, scratch, squat, get up and sniff some more, squat again, etc. It always seems like they’re pickiest when it’s freezing cold or raining outside, so you’re standing there wondering what the hell they’re looking for. Are they after the most comfortable place to hover? Are they trying to mark territory? Are they trying to cover up some previous leavings? Researchers from the Czech University of Life Sciences published a study in the Frontiers of Zoology that details their findings that all that maneuvering may be about aligning a dog’s poop with Earth’s magnetic field. My first instinct was to call bullshit, but then I kept reading and…well, judge this one for yourself.

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Are You Ready To Hear What Your Dog Is Thinking?

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No More WoofI meet plenty of people who talk to their pets. “Do you need to go out?” “Are you hungry?” I admit I sometimes talk to my cat, but I tend not to ask her such mundane questions. Instead, I’ll ask her what she did with her day (as though she might have done something other than sleep in the sunny spot on the floor) or whether she feels fulfilled as a creature, which she often answers by diving face-first into catnip. Still, there are times when I’d love to know what she’s thinking (or seeing), even though I know that if anything’s going on in her brain, it’s probably something about as deep as “fire bad, tree pretty.” Now, a Scandinavian research lab is busy devising a way to translate a dog’s sounds and body movement into human language. I mean, why stop at Google Glass for dogs?

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Google Glass For Dogs Pisses Off Cats Everywhere

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FIDOPerhaps the most surprising thing about this story is that it took this long. You know how people are about their dogs. When I lived in New York City, I actually attended a canine cocktail party. They served a lot of liver. Back then, technology wasn’t even a glint in a canine’s eye. Now, it’s all the rage. And here I used to make fun of people who dress their dogs in little sweaters. Google Glass scientist Clint Zeagler and technical lead Thad Starner are collaborating with Melody Jackson, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, to develop wearable technology for dogs called FIDO—“facilitating interactions for dogs with occupations.”

FIDO isn’t meant to give dogs the capability of secretly recording others at the dog park, but it would give them a voice. The device enables dogs to activate a sensor that transmits a message their owners can hear through headphones or see on a computer. Early tests included trying out different sensors that can be activated by biting, pulling, or panting. Studies indicated that it didn’t take long for the dogs to learn how to trigger FIDO, and that doing so created an audible sound.

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Archaeologist Dog Capable of Finding Ancient Buried Bones

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indy-dogA dog is man’s best friend, even though it doesn’t stop the man from cheating on his wife, it has no tips when it comes to gambling, and it can’t pour a pint of black and tan to save its life. But that’s not why we love them. We love them because they’re loyal, because petting them has therapeutic values, and because they share our love of bacon. Also, the sensory power of their noses is one of humanity’s most utilized tools of the animal kingdom. Aside from pelicans being used as washing machines anyway.

It’s been a big year for dog noses, as the underlying science behind them is steps closer to being understood. For a recent interview in National Geographic, Gary Jackson was asked about another surprising talent that canines’ noses offer them: finding ancient corpses. Dogs are often brought into ongoing police investigations to search wide expanses of land faster and more efficiently than humans can, but it’s another thing entirely to expect your pup to stumble upon Tutankhamen’s grave.

Jackson, of Multinational K9, having already trained dogs to find cane toads and koalas, has trained a black lab mix named Migaloo to lock onto the scent of human bones, rather than decomposing flesh, for its searches. By only giving her a toy ball when she finds the pre-placed bones, Jackson’s training was rather simplistic one would think.