Professor Daniel Mills
Class Dates: Saturday March 8, 2014
Class Time: 1:00pm - 6:00pm
Cost: $50 general admission; $25 PennVet students
Class Size: Max 120
Instructor: Professor Daniel Mills
We all think we know dogs, but things we take for granted may actually happen for very different reasons to the ones we might suppose. This day will explore the world of the dog from a scientific perspective, drawing on the research of the team at the University of Lincoln and beyond, to present a sometimes surprising picture of the capabilities of man’s best friend. Often it’s not so much about what the dog can do, but how it does it and the implications of this for how we can better manage dogs that is important.
The “Folk physics” of dogs
We take many aspects of the physical world around us for granted, without realising that these are actually internal representations that we have generated, i.e we create our own reality of the world around us that best fits with our experiences. This means it may actually differ between individuals and certainly between species. For example, it is widely known that dog’s are colour blind and so may not be able to distinguish certain colours, but what are the real implications of this?
We take a look at some of the ways in which dogs construct the physical world around them and the implications in more detail, examining both their sensory capacities, and the internal constructs they build as a result, which may follow different rules. This can mean that dogs may fail in tasks that seem obviously simple to us, but once we realize their world then we can appreciate not only why this is the case but also set things up to exploit their real capacities
Understanding people – a dog’s perspective
Just as dogs build up a view of the physical world, they must also build up a view of their social world and this requires some special cognitive skills, which may differ from those that humans use. In this session we consider how dogs process and apply information about other individuals (human, dog and other animals) and related social situations. We will consider how dogs recognise individuals and interpret what they do. From the recognition of individuals to the reading of emotion and what we say, dogs continue to surprise us. This also helps us understand the mind of the dog and how we can more effectively communicate with them in a way which minimises the risk of conflicts arising due to a failure by either us or them recognising what the other wants.
In the final session we bring this all together to look at the potential of a range of novel training methods and their limitations
Prof. Daniel Mills is from the University of Lincoln, UK. He is a leading expert in dog and cat behavior and cognition.
Penn Vet Working Dog Center
3401 Grays Ferry Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19146
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