The Clever Canine Lab was established in 2017 and is located within the University of Auckland’s Tāmaki Campus.
Its primary objective is to explore dogs’ sophisticated social cognition abilities. Our work involves liaising with dog owners in the wider Auckland community who volunteer their pet dogs to take part in our research. Owners and dogs are invited to attend sessions together, as most experiments involve both owner and dog participation.
This work has wide ranging implications for our understanding of how intelligence evolves and how processes such as domestication may affect it. We are particularly interested in the cognition underlying the social bond dogs have with their owners. We believe that a better understanding of this bond will have an impact on dog welfare and in training.
The Clever Canine Lab’s website provides further information for researchers, volunteers and participants who may be interested in this work.
The Clever Canine Lab runs year round and offers research opportunities for honours, masters and PhD students. If you are interested in working with us please contact Dr Alex Taylor. Please direct all other enquiries to the Clever Canine Lab.
We currently have a PhD position available to study dog cognition at the Clever Canine Lab. You can find out more about this opportunity at this link. All applications should be e-mailed directly to Dr. Alex Taylor.
The Clever Canine Lab has been featured in several media outlets. Here is some of the coverage for our work:
- Scoop, 12 February 2020: Yawning Difference Between Us And Dogs
- Insider, 12 February 2020: A new study says human yawns are contagious to dogs but that may not mean what we think it means
- Stuff.co.nz, 12 February 2020: Dogs’ contagious yawning may not be a sign of empathy
- Newsweek, 12 February 2020: Contagious Yawning and Empathy Link Questioned by Scientists After Finding Dogs Can Catch Yawns From Strangers
- Voxy.co.nz, 12 February 2020: Yawning difference between us and dogs
- TVNZ 1, Seven Sharp, 22 August 2019: Animals less likely to steal food if you stare at them
- Radio New Zealand, Our Changing World, 25 January 2018: Clever Canines
- Faculty of Science InSCight magazine, December 2017: How do dogs think? Clever canines and comparative psychology, pages six and seven
Below is a list of our most recent publications:
Neilands, P., Claessens, S., Ren, I., Hassall, R., Bastos, A. P. M., & Taylor, A. H. (2020) Contagious yawning is not a signal of empathy: no evidence of familiarity, gender, or prosociality biases in dogs. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 287, 20192236. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2019.2236
Neilands, P., Hassall, R., Derks, F., Bastos, A. P. M., & Taylor, A. H. (2020). Watching eyes do not stop dogs stealing food: evidence against a general risk-aversion hypothesis for the watching-eye effect. Scientific Reports 10, 1153. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-58210-4