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Dog Behavior Experiments

Dog owners have long known that dog behavior is not only a problem for the owner, but also causes guilt for the dog itself. Scientists have long disagreed.

According to an article in the June 2, 2009 issue of the New York Times, animals don't just feign guilt for their owners sake, but actually feel regret.

The experiment was conducted on chimps, not dogs. They offered the chimps an opportunity to get a prize of juice by correctly guessing where the juice was hidden.

When the chimps guessed wrong, they were shown the actual location of the juice, and a section of their brain started to fire suggesting that they were having thoughts of "Oh, if only I had picked the other location, I would have that juice right now."

Although it isn't possible to do brain scans on a dog for your science fair project, this experiment suggests a great experiment in dog behavior.

The question is: How long will a dog remember the location of its food?

Restrain the dog on one side of the room. Have two covered bowls, and while the dog is watching from across the room, place food in one of the bowls.

Then place an obstruction between the dog and the food, so it can't stare at either bowl.

After 30 seconds release the dog and see which bowl it goes to.

If the dog goes to the correct bowl, repeat the experiment, but this time leave the bowls hidden for 1 minute, then 1 minute 30 seconds, etc., until the dog forgets where the food is.

Repeat the experiment three or four nights in a row to make sure your results are consistent.

HINT: Dogs have a very good sense of smell. While conducting the experiment, put some food in front of a blowing fan so that the whole room will smell of dog food.

A quick note for dog owners. Dog training is when you teach a dog skills and behaviors which can include teaching a dog to obey certain commands and/or helping the dog to learn coping skills for stressful situations. It is necessary to acquire specific pet supplies like collars to help in the process of teaching your pet. There are many different dog breeds and depending on the breed and personality, you may want to take different approaches in your training.

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