Being Man's Best Friend Is In A Dog's DNA

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Being Man's Best Friend Is In A Dog's DNA

This topic is brought to you by Rover.com, the nation's largest network of pet sitters and dog walkers. Rover instantly connects pet owners with trusted neighborhood pet care in cities across the United States. Get $25 off your dog's first booking—click here for the offer. Have you ever stopped to think about how impressive it is that dogs can understand so much of what we say to them? It's a rare housecat that will roll over or play fetch on command, but getting a puppy to do that just takes only a few training sessions. But according to research, dogs' ability to understand humans goes even deeper than you probably realize.

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Key Facts to Know

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    Dogs tend to process verbal meanings through the left side of their brains. 1:52

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    Dogs are the only non-primates who actively seek out and establish eye contact with humans. 3:49

The Smell Of Its Owner Can Ease A Dog's Separation Anxiety

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The Smell Of Its Owner Can Ease A Dog's Separation Anxiety

This topic is brought to you by Rover.com, the nation's largest network of pet sitters and dog walkers. Rover instantly connects pet owners with trusted neighborhood pet care in cities across the United States. Get $25 off your dog's first booking—click here for the offer. Leaving your dog at home alone can be one of the saddest moments of your day—that is, assuming you don't later come home to see that Fido's separation anxiety has made him destroy the couch. According to the ASPCA, one way to ease mild separation anxiety in your pet is through something called counterconditioning. Counterconditioning teaches a dog to develop an association between being alone and something good, like getting a treat or a toy. Or, if fMRI brain scans are any indication, something that smells like you.

Scientists Have Confirmed The First Identical Twin Puppies, And It's A Big Surprise

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Scientists Have Confirmed The First Identical Twin Puppies, And It's A Big Surprise

Born in October 2015, Irish wolfhound puppies Cullen and Romulus are the first dogs to be genetically confirmed as identical twins. When you hear the words "twin puppies," you may think, "what else is new?" Dogs give birth to multiple puppies at a time, so technically every puppy in a litter is a twin. But littermates, by and large, are fraternal twins, which means they each came from a separate fertilized egg or zygote—thus, why fraternal twins are also known as dizygotic. Identical, or monozygotic twins, come from the same egg, and therefore share a placenta and, often, an amniotic sac. According to scientists, this is the reason identical twins are probably rare in the animal kingdom. It's hard for two fetuses to get enough nutrients and oxygen from a single placenta, and as a result, most identical twins die in the womb. This doesn't explain why humans may give birth to more identical twins than other animals, but twinning researcher Judith Hall told Nature that our unique reproductive cycle may be the reason: while many other animals only mate during periods of ovulation, humans often ovulate long before mating, resulting in older eggs that may be more likely to split into identical twins. The only other animal believed to have more identical twins than humans do is the nine-banded armadillo, which always gives birth to identical quadruplets.It should be said, however, that it's possible that identical twins aren't actually all that rare in the animal kingdom. Since confirmation of identical twins requires DNA analysis, we may see plenty of identical-twin animals without even knowing it. Hear the science of identical twins in the videos below.

Duke The Great Pyrenees Dog Was Elected As Mayor Three Times

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Duke The Great Pyrenees Dog Was Elected As Mayor Three Times

The town of Cormorant must be pretty happy with their mayor. After all, they've elected him to three consecutive terms. But who wouldn't be happy to have a fluffy, white Great Pyrenees dog running their town? Mayor Duke is the only dog in history to have been elected mayor in the United States. In 2014, Duke was elected for his first term in the Minnesota town of approximately 1,000 people. And he won by accident. Only 12 ballots were cast in the 2014 election, and Duke won after a few people wrote in his name. In August of 2016, the 9-year-old dog was reelected for his third year-long term. Watch the video below to see the pup and hear what a resident of the town has to say about him.

Dogs Prefer Praise to Treats

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Dogs Prefer Praise to Treats

Whether it's treats, praise, or belly rubs, most dog owners would probably say they know the best way to motivate their dog to behave. Scientists put that to a test for a 2016 study in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience that looked at what happened in dogs' brains when they were praised versus when they got food rewards. The researchers put 15 dogs in an fMRI device designed to scan the brain for areas of increased blood flow, then began their experiment. They presented each dog with a toy car and then had their owners praise them. In other tests, the dogs saw a toy horse and then received a juicy piece of hot dog. In 13 of the 15 dogs, activity in the brain's reward center during praise was equal or greater than activity when they received the food treat. To test how reliable the brain scans had been, a subsequent experiment had the dogs run down a Y-shaped maze that had their owner on one side and a bowl of treats on the other. Sure enough, the dogs that preferred their owners' praise were more likely to head toward their owner, whereas the few dogs that preferred the treat consistently chose the food. Though these kinds of tests might have obvious results for everyday dog owners, they could mean big things for service dogs. Jobs that involve close human contact might be better for those who show a preference for praise, while more independent jobs such as search and rescue might be best for dogs motivated by treats. Explore dog psychology with the videos below.