When I started out in veterinary practice, I had the opportunity to care for army dogs and horses at the local army barracks. The best thing about it was that there were never any surprises. The animals I had to see were always lined up and ready when I arrived, and the dogs in particular were temperamentally very similar, rather like their human handlers I guess. This is why I like studies using military dogs. It eliminates much of the inevitable variability between pet dogs, their owners and their environments. This allows the collection of less cluttered and cleaner data sets. A potential disadvantage, of course is that the dogs may all be the same breed and sometimes from the same, potentially small, genetic pool. This could mean that the results of the study may not reliably reflect what one would expect to find in the general dog population.
But, I argue that studies looking at the maternal care of puppies are always interesting, especially when the results can be compared with other similar studies.
Recently, we reviewed a new study on critical and sensitive periods in puppies (Morrow et al., 2015) HERE and came to the conclusion that is was an important addition and update to Scott and Fuller’s seminal work done in the 1960’s.
2015 could be declared an import year for animals on several different fronts. One reason might be that in April, a New York judge made legal history by declaring that 2 chimpanzees were to be recognised as ‘Legal Persons’ – so-called habeas corpus (Bekoff, 2015).