Research from the American Behavior Society was noted this week in Science (22-August-2014). The title, “Wolves Cooperate but Dogs Submit, Study Suggests” caught my attention, perhaps because I was at work doing my job as a science writer/editor and the word “dog” appeared in something related to work. What could be more fun than dogs at work?
But my attention was sustained because this is yet another report comparing wolves and dogs, a natural and obvious comparison, but one that always puzzles me, for several reasons.
As a former graduate student and lab tech, I know that when doing research, results are everything. Wait: Correct interpretation and reporting of results is the ultimate. But without the proper controls, one cannot correctly interpret or report results.
The control is the piece or part of the experiment that shows what happens when no treatment is applied; the sample or subject is in the same environment and has the same experience as the treated samples or group.
However, my experience is in biology research. The dog-wolf study discussed here is behavorial research. I have never (willingly and knowingly) participated in behavioral research.
But I know that controls are essential and that in behavioral research on live subjects, controls are probably very difficult to…control. Continue reading “Do Wolves Cooperate, and Dogs Submit? A Dog Trainer’s Thoughts”