Audience effects on dog facial expressions

23 10 2017

Just as for smiling in humans, alarm calling in chickens and many other signals, having an audience (here, a human rather than a member of their own species) potentiates facial expressions in dogs. This has been revealed in a new paper in Scientific Reports  (nicely covered by the Guardian here).

I’d love to now know if dogs produce different expressions for humans than they do for other dogs, and whether associative learning plays a role (since I’m convinced — not least as cats are so good at tailoring what they do to what pushes our buttons — that Sylvie makes cute faces when she notices me looking at her, which I then totally reinforce with cuddles).  Thanks to Jamie for passing this on!

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New papers submitted

16 10 2017

In last week’s flurry of activity, Andrea submitted a paper to Animal Behaviour. We aimed higher than normal with this MS as it’s on three inter-connected studies that nicely show that different stereotypic behaviours have different triggers and are best treated in different ways, even within the same individual. Fingers crossed they send it out to review!

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And Emma (that’s ‘Little Emma’) and Aimee sent a paper off to Lab Animal, validating live observation as a data collection for mice. These results were a major relief as the video-watching this required, even though of just 8 cages, nearly killed them.

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Welfare benefits of preferred natural stimuli

16 10 2017

Link to me and Misha‘s new paper (which I love, though of course I’m highly biased), good for 50 days:

Or if that doesn’t work:

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Two by two

16 10 2017

It’s been an intense couple of weeks. The NSERC doctoral scholarship deadline was on Friday, which Aimee and Andrea were applying to, and but Sunday to Wednesday I was away, travelling to Chicago for a zoo animal welfare conference at which I, Andrea, ‘Big Emma’ and Miranda were all presenting.

So … this involved helping to prepare two applications, submitting two papers (because having an extra submission with a real manuscript no. looks great when applying for scholarships), writing two references, writing two talks, helping create two posters, and spending two days in a car (a ridiculous SUV), as we drove to Illinois and back (all on top of the normal workload of teaching two courses).

Despite the odd hairy moment, everything paid off and went really well. But once I got back home and finally relaxed, the inevitable happened: my immune system went on sabbatical, with two results: a nasty cold, and a zit the size of a marble on my chin. Time for two blissful days in bed? I think so.

Our new hens

3 10 2017

The second 48 of Misha‘s grand total of 96 hens arrived yesterday (Batch One of his final enrichment experiment being done with and adopted out in August). Young-looking pullets still, they were a bit nervous after their trip (though if they’re like the last lot they’ll settle down in just a few days).

And they weren’t the only ones who were a bit nervous: yesterday at 430 pm I got a panicky phonecall from the suppliers saying the birds were all packed up and ready for pick-up, and and who was coming?  Since Misha was away, this had me imagining sad, crowded birds waiting miserably in crates on some loading dock, and wondering if I could get to St. Jacob’s by 5 and whether they could all fit in the Prius. Luckily they had actually been picked up hours ago by the trusty Bishwo so all was well, but this definitely knocked a few hours off the end of my life.


Sylvie features in class today …

3 10 2017

… in a section on behaviour and the senses that looks at eye widening. Here are two photos, taken within a second. In which one am I holding up a pipecleaner?

Grass as enrichment

2 10 2017

Just looking at this old photo from Misha earlier this year of one of his hens and Mr Black enjoying some grass given as an enrichment. Now I have hens, I can say that this grass will last about 30 seconds….maybe less….