The Science Dog Hits the Road!

Hello Science Dog Readers,

Just a quick note to let you know that the Science Dog (aka Linda Case) is going on the road for several upcoming speaking engagements, starting in October. If you enjoy reading The Science Dog blog and reading my books, this is a chance for us to meet in person and talk about the topics that we all love – Dogs and Science!

Here are details and links for more information:

Saturday, October 21, 2017 – Sarah Whitehead’s Clever Dog Company’s Annual Inner Circle Conference, London, England

Sunday, October 22, 2017 – Clever Dog Company Conference, Masterclass (full-day seminar):

Friday – Sunday, January 19 – 21, 2018 – Animal Events UK Puppy Conference, Birmingham, England:

Friday – Sunday, April 19 – 21, 2018, IAABC Animal Behavior Conference, Burlington (Boston), Massachusetts.


Happy New Year from The Science Dog! (The 2017 Pet Blogger Challenge)

Happy New Year from The Science Dog!

To start the year off, I am participating for the first time in The Pet Blogger Challenge that is organized by the travel site, Go Pet Friendly. Many thanks to my friend Eileen Anderson for alerting me to this annual event. Below are this year’s queries and my responses. I hope you enjoy learning a bit more about The Science Dog!

  1. When did you start your blog and, for anyone who is just seeing it for first time, please provide a description of your site. Would you say your blog focuses more on sharing stories with your readers, or providing a resource for your audience? Answer: I created The Science Dog in September of 2013, shortly before the publication of my fifth book, “Dog Food Logic“. The purpose of The Science Dog is to provide up-to-date, evidence-based information to dog folks and pet professionals about dog training, behavior and nutrition. My focus is primarily on original scientific research that has been published in peer-reviewed journals. I try to find studies whose results are relevant to trainers and dog owners and then summarize these in what I hope is a “user-friendly” style. Oh, and yeah, sometimes I editorialize a bit.



  2. What was your proudest blogging moment of 2016? Answer: I published the second Science Dog book in July of 2016, entitled “Only Have Eyes for You“. Both writing and promoting it has been a lot of fun! My husband Mike designed the cover for the book (as he did for “Beware the Straw Man“), and I was especially tickled that he used a photo of four of our dogs, posed in our garden. The oldest girl, Cadie, has since passed away, so this photo is very near and dear to my heart.

    Cadie Chip Vinny Cooper May 2013


  3. Which of your blog posts was your favorite this year and why? (Please include a link.) Answer: I enjoyed writing all of the posts, especially the nutrition essays, as I had focused the first two years of the blog on topics related to behavior and training. In 2015, I started to include more essays about nutrition and feeding practices. However, my personal favorite of 2016 has to be “The Perfect Dog“, because it reviews two recent papers that provide some insight into the gap between what people think a dog should be versus who dogs actually are (and also, to some degree, places the responsibility for this exactly where it lies).       Unrealistic Expectations
  4. Year after year, one goal that we all seem to share is that we want to reach more people. What one tool did you use or action did you take this year that had the most impact on increasing traffic to your blog? Answer: I use FaceBook quite a bit, and have a FB Science Dog page that gives dog folks access to the blog and allows readers to chat and to contact me directly. I love to hear from readers, especially when they have ideas for new science-based topics for the blog! (hint-hint).
  5. Which of your blog posts got the most traffic this year? (Please include a link.) Have you noticed any themes across your most popular posts? Answer: The essay that received the largest number of hits (~ 18,000) was “When Sit Doesn’t Mean S*it“. Catchy  little title aside, I think that it resonated with shelter professionals because it presents a set of research studies conducted by Alexandra Protopopova’s team that both challenged a prevailing belief about training and adoption rates and presented some unique solutions that may be more effective as predictors of dogs’ chances for adoption.   Sit Ubu
  6. What blog do you find most inspirational and how has it influenced your blog? (Please include a link.) Answer: There are a number of dog-related blogs that I follow regularly and enjoy. Two that are among the best are Eileen Anderson’s not-to-be-missed essays about dog training at EileenandDogs and Julie Hecht’s excellent research summaries at Dog Spies.
  7. What is one thing your readers don’t know about you or your pets that would surprise them? Answer: What my readers may not know (but all of my friends do) is that while I hold a Masters Degree in Canine/Feline Nutrition, I cannot cook a human food meal to save my life. I started volunteering two years ago at our local soup kitchen, The Daily Bread, and the other volunteers quickly learned this little secret. I am now a designated dish-washer and happily report that I excel at that particular task, keeping everyone safe (and well fed).



  8. What is something you’ve learned this year that could help other bloggers? Answer: Not to point any political fingers (interpret this as you like), but my advice to other writers (and citizens) is: Don’t lie and stick to the facts that have evidence to support them.    just-the-facts-maam-2
  9. What would you like to accomplish on your blog in 2017? Answer: The biggest challenge that I may have in 2017 is finding enough time to work on all of the writing and dog training projects that I am excited about. I am currently writing a new dog training book that presents evidence-based training and the applications that we use at our training school, AutumnGold, plus developing a few new training courses with several of AutumnGold’s instructors and writing essays for The Science Dog (many of which will appear, in some form, in the new book). Add in training and enjoying time with my own dogs, and it looks like it will be a busy and fun year!

    Cooper and Alice Standing Platforms


  10. Now it’s your turn! You have the attention of the pet blogging community – is there a question you’d like answered, or an aspect of your blog that you’d like input on? Answer: Thanks to GoPetFriendly for sponsoring this blog challenge and hop! This is a Blog Hop!

New Book! “Only Have Eyes for You: Exploring Canine Research with The Science Dog”

Only Have Eyes for You: Exploring Canine Research with The Science Dog” (paperback version) is now available! Click on the image below for more information and to order. (Kindle version will be available soon!)

Book description:  In her second Science Dog book, Linda Case tackles commonly held beliefs about canine nutrition, pet foods, behavior, social cognition and training. Each of the book’s 32 chapters explores a current issue that is of interest to dog owners and pet professionals and presents the scientific evidence that supports or refutes commonly held claims and beliefs. Learn about pet food ingredients and research showing that what is on the label may not always be in the food, about measures of food quality (and what consumers may not know about the foods that they buy), and about the safety and digestibility of popular dog treats and chews. Other chapters review new information regarding how dogs communicate, factors that help or inhibit a dog’s ability to learn, and the effectiveness of different types of training. Find out if dogs are capable of “knowing what someone else knows”, if they feel empathy for their friends, if they bark for no reason, and if they are capable of feeling guilt following a misdeed. Learn more about breed stereotyping, factors that influence our perceptions of dogs, and which canine characteristics most influence our attraction to particular dogs. This newest Science Dog book has something for everyone who works with and trains dogs, as well as for those who simply love dogs and enjoy learning more about our canine best friends.



Be a Citizen (Canine) Scientist!

Love dogs and interested in helping scientists to learn more about their behavior? If so, this study is for you! Graduate student Mie Kikuchi and Professor Daniel Mills of the University of Lincoln are conducting a survey study that examines cultural perceptions of canine aggression. Click the photo below to be a citizen scientist and participate in their study. (Note: The survey is quite detailed, so it is best to set aside at least 20 minutes to complete it).


NEW STUDY: Exploring cultural influences on the perception of human-directed aggressive behaviour in dogs

And please, feel welcome to share this link far-and-wide. The purpose of this study is to compare cultures, so the more participants, the stronger (and more interesting) will be the data! Enjoy!

Collect the Data


“Dog Food Logic” Wins Maxwell Award!

My publisher, Dogwise, informed me last week that my book “Dog Food Logic: Making Smart Decisions for your Dog in an Age of Too Many Choices” has won the Dog Writer’s Association of America’s Maxwell Award for Best Health Care Book of 2014! For more information about “Dog Food Logic” and about my newest book “Beware the Straw Man” click the links below.

dog-food-logic-cover-final               Beware Straw Man Cover

What’s Your Dinner Ritual?

The Case dogs have an evening dinner ritual. This ritual has not changed much in the last few years and deviates very little in its nightly performance. It begins, like clockwork, at 8:15 pm and is currently directed by Cadie, our senior Golden girl. Mike (my husband) typically feeds the dogs their evening meal, so is her usual target. As the self-appointed “dinner getter” Cadie takes her responsibilities very seriously. She is in charge of checking the time (apparently every 15 seconds after 7:00 p.m.), of carefully tracking potential human movement towards the utility room where the dog food resides, and of counting dogs to determine when everyone is in the house and ready to eat.

Chip Cadie Vinny Cooper Dec 2012CADIE AND HER BOYS

When all key factors are in place, Cadie declares “Game On!” and the ritual begins in earnest. First comes the unrelenting stare; laser-beam eyes capable of burning holes through flesh. Cadie’s style is impressive; she sits rock solid still, barely breathing, eyes fixed on Mike’s face. If the stares do not elicit the desired response (dinner), she gradually inches closer until she is perched on the couch, Snoopy vulture-style, her cute little snout hovers inches above Mike’s face. If there is still no food-related movement, she adds the woofing; persistent little barks timed at two-second intervals for maximum annoyance. The paw on the arm is added last and occasionally Cadie feigns a dramatic hunger-induced swoon. (Okay, I made that last part up, but it really seems like something she would try). Finally, if all else has failed and it looks like dinner may not be forthcoming, Cadie enlists her second-in-command, Vinny the Brittany, to help.

With two dogs hovering with pleading eyes, Mike finally gets to his feet and walks towards the utility room. An explosion of happiness erupts! It is time for a DOG PARTY!!! Four dogs, all running, spinning, barking, more spinning, joyous, joyous Dinner Time, Dinner Time – A time for celebration! As Mike measures food into bowls, he sings the Case Family Dinner Time song (Who wants dinner? Who wants dinner? Everybody does! Everybody does! ). All four dogs crowd around for the measuring into bowls; Cadie keeping a keen eye on portions. Once the food is doled out, sitting is required prior to eating and all of the dogs adhere to the single hard and fast dinner rule – eat only from your own bowl. When everyone has finished their meal, the dogs are then allowed to play musical bowls, each thoroughly inspecting and licking every bowl. Finally, dinner complete, everyone goes outside for a potty break, knowing that tomorrow will be another day, complete with a new joyous opportunity for food and the celebratory dinnertime ritual.


Do you have a dinnertime ritual with your dog? Does your dog have very specific and endearing “dinner-getting” behaviors? Do you have a particular way of responding to these? And, tell the truth now…….do you have a dinnertime song?

Food  is love (emotional brain): When we think about our daily lives with our dogs, we consider many shared enjoyments. And with our dogs, just as with our human family and friends, dinner time is not only about nutrition and food – it is just as much about joy and affection, and ritual. Indeed, there is perhaps no other aspect of our lives with dogs in which we show love more consistently than with the decisions that we make about what, how, and when we feed them. And it is exactly these feelings that cause choosing the best possible food or method of feeding for our dogs to weigh so heavily upon our minds.

And, it is science (rational brain): It is a fact that nutrition is a science that is governed by the same scientific principles and methods as all of the hard sciences such as biology, chemistry and physics. However, for most of us, applying the principles of sound nutrition to our dogs’ daily lives does not feel like science. Rather feeding our dogs feels like love, and caretaking, and nurturing.  And indeed, providing good nutritional care should feel good. Without question, the deep love and commitment that we have for our dogs is essential for caring for them well.

Using both: Still, we need evidence, scientifically acquired evidence, to make informed decisions about nutritious foods and healthful feeding practices for dogs. Critical thinking skills enable us to sort out reliable evidence from information that is based upon conjecture, anecdote, and belief. The good news is that emotions and rational thought are not mutually exclusive, and in fact can play quite nicely together in your decision-making brain. Loving our dogs and wanting the best for them (our emotional mind) plus a set of well-honed critical thinking skills (our rational mind) can work together quite efficiently to help us to make wise food choices. While emotions are essential for decision-making and can influence us in many positive ways, we must also be aware of (and avoid) the cognitive traps that emotions can lead to and that clever pet food marketing campaigns often rely upon. Once you have these skills in place, the resulting smart food choices (coupled with a really cool dinnertime song) can help you to enjoy your dinnertime rituals with your dogs for many years to come.

This essay is excerpted from Chapter 1 of my new book “Dog Food Logic“. If you enjoyed this piece would like to read more, the book is available from the publisher (Dogwise) and on Amazon:

 Amazon Cover                                            Amazon Cover              AMAZON                                                                    DOGWISE

Dog Food Logic

Dog Food Logic: Making smart decisions for your dog in an age of too many choices” is  now available! Click on the images for more information and to order. (Note: E-versions are already available from Dogwise, and will be included on Amazon soon).

 Amazon Cover                                            Amazon Cover                                ORDER FROM AMAZON                                          ORDER FROM DOGWISE



Reviewer: Dr. Brennen McKenzie, MA, VMD; President, Evidence-Based Veterinary Medicine Association,
Author of SkeptVet Blog

Dog Food Logic is an indispensable book for any pet owner who wants to make thoughtful, informed decisions about what to feed his or her canine companions. The dog food industry is a bewildering, ever-changing landscape of companies and brands, and dog owners are inundated with marketing masquerading as science, with rigid advice from self-declared experts, and with fads every bit as intense and short-lived as those in the human weight loss business. Dog Food Logic cuts through the noise and chaos and provides pet owners with a rational, science-based approach to evaluating their pets’ dietary needs and their feeding choices.

Rather than simply telling dog owners what food to buy, Dog Food Logic provides a concise and comprehensible guide to the three main subjects we must understand in order to make sound feeding choices: the science of canine nutrition, the nature of the dog food industry, and the pitfalls in our own ways of thinking that make us susceptible to marketing hype and irrational decisions. Rather than trying to tell us what to feed, Ms. Case empowers dog owners to make choices consistent with the needs of our individual pets and our own values.

In Dog Food Logic, the author displays a deep understanding of not only the science of nutrition but of the human-animal bond. Feeding our pets is more than providing them with essential nutrients. It is an expression of love and one of the most enjoyable shared experiences between pet and owner. Ms. Case understands that the emotional nature of feeding our animal companions must be appreciated and nurtured, but that it can also make us vulnerable to manipulation. Advertising and advice about what to feed our pets often plays on our anxieties about their health and happiness and our desire to do everything possible to ensure a long and healthy life for our dogs. Ms. Case is able to help us see through such manipulative marketing and make sound feeding decisions based on science while still respecting the role of feeding in the deep bond between owners and our pets.

As a veterinarian, a scientist, and a dog owner, I have waited a long time for a book like Dog Food Logic, one which I can enthusiastically recommend to my clients and colleagues. After reading Dog Food Logic, you will of course have a deeper understanding of canine nutrition, the pet food industry, and how to make good choices about feeding your pet. But you will also have a greater understanding of yourself as a pet owner and a consumer. Understanding how we make choices, and how those choices can be influenced by the quirks of our own thought processes and by the manipulative power of marketing, enables us to make better decisions about all aspects of our pets’ care. If we apply the same critical thinking and evidence-based approach to behavior and training, veterinary care, and all the other decisions we make as pet owners, we will better caretakers with happier, healthier pets.


Reviewer: Steve Dale, CABC, columnist Tribune Content Agency; radio host Black Dog Radio Productions and WGN Radio (Chicago); contributing editor USA Weekend

Pet food is like a religion for many – but now those strong emotional ties can be backed up with fact. Linda Case, separates fact from fiction, and explains the complex terms and offers a guide to pet nutrition in simple to comprehend language. Unlike other books on this topic, there is no agenda here – except to present facts and then allow pet owners to make their own logical conclusions, letting the kibble drop where it may.


Reviewer: Claudia Kawczynska, Founder and Editor-in-chief, The Bark

Dog Food Logic is the indispensable guide to the science behind canine nutrition that will help us to make wise, well-informed choices about how and what we feed our dogs. It takes the fear out of trying to understand proper nutrition and will empower us to determine what is best for the health of our dogs.


Reviewer: Dr. George C. Fahey, Jr, Professor Emeritus of Animal Science, University of IL at Champaign-Urbana

Not often does one consider a book of this sort to be a “page turner”. Sure … a book may be very readable and the material presented accurate and informative. But, in so many instances, reading page after page of scientific jargon can be a sure cure for insomnia. So …, a “page turner” … really??? That’s exactly what I found when I picked up this book for the first time and read every single word in spite of a hectic schedule. Simply stated, this book was very difficult to put down, and it was with great displeasure that this happened to me on several occasions throughout the reviewing process.

Perhaps it was the writing style of the author – relaxed and sometimes emotional, yet at the same time scientific, credible, and understandable. Perhaps it was the examples used to illustrate major points – story-like, but with just the right content of scientific rigor and hard facts. Perhaps it was the balance of topics provided – from the emotional (e.g., Food is Love) to the highly scientific (e.g., What’s So Special About a Dog’s Nutritional Needs?). Whatever it was, I found this to be a very compelling presentation of topics related to pet animal nutrition and the pet food industry that provides the foods for these animals. Rarely, if ever, can one find the variety of topics presented in this text to be under one cover. The author clearly has done due diligence in investigating the 11 major topics covered in the book, then distilling and summarizing that information into an entertaining, factual, educational presentation that will benefit readers regardless of their expertise (or lack thereof) in this discipline. There is something in this book for everyone interested in pets and what they eat. And there is no question that a pet owner will come away with a great deal of awareness of the complexities associated with the seemingly easy task of choosing the proper food for his/her animal companion.

There are several unique features of this book that are noteworthy:
1.Evidence-based decision-making as applied to dog nutrition is explained and advocated, as is the use of scientific information to make wise decisions about pet animal health and well-being. This approach is compared and contrasted to other gathering processes such as placing value on personal opinions of others, anecdotes, and testimonials.
2.An excellent explanation of the key components of a scientific article is provided. After reading this section, a lay person should be able to discern the key findings of the research group who published the article.
3.Detailed information on the nutritional idiosyncrasies of the senior dog and the “athletic” vs. the “couch potato” dog is provided.
4.The chapter about marketing is fascinating with good separation of reality and hype.
5.The appendices are valuable supplements to the textual material.

There are a few issues discussed in the book that I don’t agree with completely:
1.The importance of the owner knowing the digestibility values for specific foods is overstated. While I am a strong advocate of the digestibility measurement as an index of food quality, there is ample scientific information available allowing an owner to infer from the ingredient list (and the order of ingredients) what the approximate digestibility of his/her particular pet food might be. This takes some time and study on the part of the owner, but if they really want to know, sufficient information exists to allow them to determine a ballpark digestibility value.
2.Ingredients from countries other than the U.S. are devalued to some extent in this text. Hundreds of very successful pet food companies are in business all across the world. Many of them would be unknown to the American pet owner, yet they prepare excellent quality foods from ingredients purchased in their own country and from countries other than the U.S. Most ingredients from other countries are just fine with a few exceptions.
3.The demand for a higher degree of transparency from the pet food industry, with the suggestion that key information be included on the pet food bag, is impractical. There is only so much room on the bag, and most bags have a lot of information written on them already (in font sizes sometimes difficult to see without a magnifying glass!). In addition, I doubt that the majority of pet owners want to spend a lot of time on the “sausage-making” details associated with pet food production. ISO certification serves the purpose of identifying foods of high quality, and that should give peace of mind to pet owners.


Reviewer: Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM, CVJ, Author, speaker, and CEO of Pawcurious Media

Don’t read this book if you want someone to tell you what to feed your dog. This is a book for people who want to learn, in a reasoned and thoughtful way, how to figure it out for themselves. Dog Food Logic goes way beyond the usual textbook list of nutritional requirements to cover the pet food industry in all its glory: the history, the business, the marketing, and best of all, the science.

Case deftly navigates the most controversial topics in pet food and presents the big picture without interjecting judgment about what approach is best. There’s something here for everyone: pet care professionals and dog lovers alike will learn something new from this informative, easy to read, and well researched book.