Psychology & Dogs
Psychology is the study of humans….and other animals!
The psychology course that motivated me to become a psychology major was Comparative Psychology— comparing behaviors of different species. It was exciting to learn that studying other species is an essential part of psychology. Many of the basic principles of psychology were discovered using simpler animals, e.g. fruit flies, squids, rats, pigeons, dogs, monkeys. In the classroom, an animal can create a memorable demonstration of an important concept. In addition, using a pet rather than using “laboratory” animal is a humane alternative. A pet animal is well-loved and lives in a comfortable home, rather than living in a sterile lab.
Here are some topics for which a dog might be used as a demonstration subject.
Classroom Social Environment
In addition to learning about Psychology, a dog in the classroom can enhance the teaching environment by providing the following benefits:
Just as there can be a cultural misunderstanding between two humans, there can be misunderstandings between a human and a dog. Here are some tips on “inter-species etiquette.”
A Polite Human when meeting a dog...
Ø First asks the owner/guardian if touching or feeding the dog is OK
Ø Respects the dog's personal space. Stand about two feet away and allow the dog to approach you.
Ø Extends a closed hand below the dog's head. An open hand over a dog's head can be threatening.
Ø Initially pets the dog’s shoulders, rather than the dog’s head
Ø Doesn't stare at the dog. Staring can communicate dominance or aggression to a dog.
Ø Gives the dog appropriate treats (not human junk food)
Ø Doesn’t tease the dog.
A Polite Dog when meeting a human...
Ø Is clean and flea-less.
Ø Refrains from jumping on people.
Ø Knows basic obedience.
A Good Dog Owner/Guardian
Ø Provides basic needs like good nutrition and fresh water, along with exercise and mental stimulation.
Ø Sets aside time everyday for fun and attention.
Ø Teaches the dog good manners.
Ø Gives the dog clear and consistent commands, e.g. rewards good behavior, and discourages bad behavior.
Ø Always properly disposes dog poop.
Ø Understands that getting a dog is a lifetime commitment.
IMPORTANT: Any dog can bite. If you choose to interact with the dog, you assume all risk. CCSF and Karin Hu are not liable for any injury
i.e. body language, includes tone of voice, facial expression, posture and
gestures. In human-to-human communication, approximately 80% of the message is
non-verbal. In human-dog communication, almost 100% of the message is
non-verbal. Understanding the body language of a dog can improve your
communication skills. Below are some examples of how to interpret a dog’s body
language. (From: “How to Speak Dog” by