• About
  • Careers
  • Newsletter
News Professor, students research dog behavior

Professor, students research dog behavior


humane society

For the past year, dogs of the Humane Society of South Mississippi have been participating in behavioral studies developed by researchers at The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park campus.

Heidi Lyn, an assistant psychology professor, and her students decided to do animal behavioral research on shelter animals because of a change in philosophy on discovering the way animals think.

Instead of comparing complex animals to humans, the researchers have decided to compare animals to animals, recently focusing on domesticated animals such as cats and dogs. 

“We are trying to understand more about the animals we share the Earth with not only to gain insight into how they became what they are, but how we, as humans, evolved into what we are,” said Stephanie Jett, a psychology graduate student. “Studying animals gives us the unique ability to gain insight into the evolution of complex cognition and communication.”

During the research, Lyn discovered that dogs respond to human signals such as pointing, whereas great apes from previous studies did not respond well to the signals. However, Apes who were typically around humans responded to the pointing. Lyn explains that the domestication process has helped dogs to become more accustomed to human culture. This assumption is called the domestication hypothesis.

Another study that the research team has completed collecting data for is the numerosity study. In this study researchers are testing whether dogs realize the difference between the quantity of objects, such as the difference between two treats and four treats. Dogs have responded by choosing the pile with the most treats, showing that they are aware of numerical differences.

The next study that the research team will partake in is animal attachment. They will be observing which dogs have separation anxiety and which dogs are comfortable being left alone. Lyn feels that this research is helping science as well as the dogs at HSSM by allowing the animals to be placed in better fitting homes as well as informing prospective adopters. 

Researchers have developed a program called Research Stars where animals who have shown tremendous results in the research are rewarded with the title Research Star. 

“It’s another way to draw attention to the dogs who are responding well to the research,” Lyn said. 

The stars are listed on HSSM’s Facebook page and video footage of the animals are added to HSSM’s YouTube page so that prospective pet owners can observe the dog’s behavior. 

“We learn something from these animals every day, even if it’s not what we expect to find. We have gotten a lot of data from these amazing dogs and we are never disappointed,” Jett said.

Latest news

Southern Miss shows off firepower to sweep series against UAB

Southern Miss (21-9, 8-3 Conference USA) showed the full range of its firepower as it swept UAB...

Social media shouldn’t be considered a public utility

The United States Supreme Court recently dismissed a case that claimed former president Donald Trump violated the...

SAPA will “Walk A Mile” to raise money for crisis intervention

In an effort to raise money for the Shafer Center for Crisis Intervention, the Sexual Assault Prevention...

Health officials explain COVID-19 vaccination side effects to ease second dose scares

As people continue to receive COVID-19 vaccinations across the country, the growing number of reported side effects...

Nannie Mac’s extends hours for finals week

Nannie Mac’s recently announced that they will be open for later hours during finals week. Ever since...

“Set Him Up” sets Queen Naija up for a great deluxe

On April 8, Queen Naija released a new single, “Set Him Up”, featuring soul singer Ari Lennox....

Must read

Southern Miss shows off firepower to sweep series against UAB

Southern Miss (21-9, 8-3 Conference USA) showed...

Social media shouldn’t be considered a public utility

The United States Supreme Court recently dismissed...

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you