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The Science of Dogs

Dog lovers know that while dogs are not their whole lives, dogs can help make their lives whole. Clive Wynne, PhD, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University, understands this best. Wynne has studied animal behavior for the past 30 years and is a leading scholar in dog behavioral theory. He uses a multidisciplinary approach to investigate the science of dogs and how dogs and humans can enrich each other’s lives.

“There’s something immensely satisfying about how happy my dog is to see me at the end of the day,” says Wynne. “It really is rather miraculous. I’m trying to get to the bottom of why dogs care so much about us.”

Wynne is barking up a storm in his unique online course series, Dog Behavior and Cognition, the first of its kind to treat dog behavior as a matter of scientific study. This three-part sequence will transform the way you think about dogs and is likely to appeal to dog trainers, behaviorists, and those looking to better understand what makes their canine counterparts tick.

In the first course, Dog Origins, you will unravel the mystery of how, why, when, and where dogs first arose. Some scientists argue dogs emerged as many as 100,000 years ago, while others claim dogs appeared as recently as 12,000 years ago. Scholars have differing opinions on the dog’s place of origin -- with some pinpointing Europe, some China, and many places in between. Wynne demystifies these issues, explains how dogs became domesticated members of society, and helps you form your own ideas regarding the origins of “man’s best friend.”

In the second course, Dog Perception and Cognition, you will learn how dogs see, hear, and sniff the world around them. Wynne explores the ways dogs think and make sense of the people, places, and things in their lives. While simple objects like tubes and strings are essentially meaningless to dogs, their social relationships with other dogs, animals, and humans are powerfully salient to their existence. You will also have the opportunity to test your own dog’s senses with fun exercises demonstrated by Wynne and his dog, Xephos.

In the third and final course, Dog Behavior: Problems and Solutions, Wynne reviews behavioral issues that may arise in dogs and why these problems continue. Wynne breaks down the scientific underpinnings of how dogs learn and how behavior principles can be used to successfully train dogs -- an area of research that is largely absent in popular dog training books available today. You will learn about the temperament tests being used to help individuals identify the right kind of dog for their family and lifestyle as well.

Make no bones about it, Wynne is sure to teach you and your dog some new tricks in this tail-wagging course series, which may be completed for continuing education units and/or professional development. To learn about the online course series and how to enroll, visit: www.edx.org/xseries/dog-behavior-cognition. To read more about Wynne and his research interests, visit: www.clivewynne.com.