I love Dog World, this space built on a shared love and compassion for our furry friends. The most important relationships in my life grew from this space, and I’ve learned to take better care of my pets along the way. Dog World (that should be a theme park, imo…) brings joy, laughter, tears, and connection.
One thing I don’t love?
There’s a lot of outdated, outmoded, and just plain dumb stuff that still circulates. Many pet professionals like dog trainers aren’t required to have any type of certification (though lots pursue it on their own). And, unfortunately, opinion rather than fact rules the day.
All this sprang up for me recently when someone messaged me regarding a specific post, and she asked, “Where do you get your research?”
I love that question for two reasons: First, it shows a healthy dose of skepticism and a critical eye. I love following the trails of others’ research and vetting sources on my own, so I greatly appreciated that inquiry! Second, I thought I had done a decent job (at least in that post) linking to sources, so it was a strong call to action on my part to really emphasize the data when it’s a research-driven post.
Anyway, as I started to craft my reply to her, I realized: I should post this! We all love dogs, and I think we’re all rational, reasonable people who are open to well-researched new ideas. I think we can all agree we’re sick of blustery claims or emotional arguments that don’t hold water–in Dog World and, you know, Real World. So I wanted to share a few things with you and hopefully this gives you some awesome weekend reading, too!
Dog Research Topics and Where to Find Sources
Here’s a confession: I read a lot. I basically read all the time. I don’t like having social media on my phone (other than Instagram, of course), but I love having it to read articles, blogs, newspapers, and so on when I have pockets of time without my computer. I keep notes on what I read, so I’m constantly gathering ideas. But, I wanted to share two of my most favorite blogs for gathering dog research topics and ideas:
A more recent discovery for me, this blog is written by Linda P. Case, an expert with the credentials to back her up. A lot of the topics center around the latest in canine nutrition. If you’re looking to binge-read a blog this weekend that focuses on how our dogs eat (and, let’s be honest, who isn’t?) this is for you. And, actually, in the past she didn’t write a ton: maybe a post every few months. However, there are already three for this year, so I’m excited to see where it goes in 2019! All that said, this is an awesome starting point for research-based information largely about canine nutrition. It’s also easy to read, turning complex data into engaging posts.
OK, so I’m sure there’s an explanation, but there aren’t any new posts in about five months. However, the archives are so worth it. And I hope it’s not going away. I love, love this blog, one published by Scientific American. If you want to know how your dogs think–about everything from poop eating to self-recognition to the sad puppy-dog look, plus all sorts of other stuff like the science of animal shelters and even, sometimes about cat cognition–this is the site you need to read. It’s entertaining. It’s informative. It’s caused me, many times, to sit and stare at Cooper wishing even more than usual that I could get inside that head of his.
There are a ton more amazing blogs and channels that cover animal topics. Twitter is an awesome resource, as is Instagram. And, once I have some ideas, or–more often than not–I have some notes in a notebook somewhere that are little planted seeds waiting until something sparks a connection that I can turn into a post, I turn to Google Scholar. Also, I always do search the regular Google, too, because I love reading what others have to say about specific topics, especially blogs and newspapers.
Google Scholar just like regular Google, except that it only searches scholarly publications. So, for instance, recently I was hired to write a blog post for a client about the latest research on the relationship between your dog’s microbiome and his behavior (super interesting stuff!), so I went to Google Scholar and typed in “dog microbiome” as a starting point. The results are all peer-reviewed science vs. what you find on Facebook or on blogs that make claims based on “my dog.” In the end, there’s nothing wrong with that as long as you’re taking great care of your dog. I’m just someone who nearly-obsessively wants to find the actual science behind those claims.
When I used to teach college English, we talked about an “informed assessment,” that is coming to your own conclusion based on the research. That’s generally what my blog posts are: informed assessments.
I think, at the end of the day, the person messaged me originally because she disliked the claim I made in that post. And that’s fair. Everyone can dislike whatever they want, but whether or not the claim is true, well, it’s much harder to look at data, at published scientific research, and say, “Nah, I don’t think so,” than it is to disregard anecdotes.
There you have it: That’s a glimpse at how I find dog research topics and then how I research them. I have piles of notes and ideas that I’ll likely never get to, at least not in this forum, but I love the reading and the research, so that’s worth it to me, anyways!
I hope you enjoy those two blogs! Please let me know if you dig up anything fascinating, and if you have other favorite sources, please share those in the comments!