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Dog Emotion and Cognition

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Dog Emotion and Cognition will introduce you to the exciting new study of dog psychology, what the latest discoveries tell us about how dogs think and feel about us, and how we can use this new knowledge to further strengthen our relationship with our best friends.




by CGMar 29, 2020
Great course! It develops each topic comprehensively and combines old and new approaches to improving our relationship with dogs and helping dogs learn to be included in our society.


by MCSep 23, 2018
Absolutely brilliant!!! I am a veterinarian and very into dogs, so it’s no surprise I liked it, but I think this could be just the course for anyone who has a dog or is thinking of getting one.



Dec 14, 2020

I learned valuable information about dogs. I can better understand the thought processes of my dogs. I like that the lecture slides were provided after the lectures so I could review them.

brian-hare-Assistant Professor Duke University

11 minutes to complete
Course Information
Dog Emotion and Cognition is a course designed to introduce the exciting new science of dog psychology to any level of dog enthusiast. In learning about dogs you will be introduced to evolutionary and cognitive theory, learn about experimental methodology, see how dogs compare to other species, and even have the chance to try some of the cognitive games you learn about with your own dog. The course is a great introduction to the field of animal cognition and animal behavior but is also relevant to anyone interested in human evolution or even dog training. When you finish you will think about your dog in a new way, will be ready to apply your new knowledge, and will be prepared to take higher level classes in the evolutionary or cognitive sciences.

1 video (Total 1 min), 1 reading
3 hours to complete
The Paradox of a Best Friend That Evolved From Our Worst Enemy
This module will provide an introduction to cognitive psychology and evolution, while having direct application to your dog. At the beginning of each lecture, Dr. Hare will suggest an optional reading from his book The Genius of Dogs, as well as free Dognition games to play at Dr. Hare discusses how our evolutionary relationship with dogs is a puzzle. He describes the meaning of cognition and what it looks like with modern research on animals. Last, he discusses what Dognition is and how can be used like a laboratory for the class.

5 videos (Total 41 min), 4 readings, 4 quizzes
4 hours to complete
How Biology Studies Cognitive Evolution
In this module, Dr. Hare describes how the internal processes of the mind are studied through experiments. He explains how animal problem solving is best explained as scientists work toward better understanding the topic. Next, he describes the ecological approach to cognition through an evolutionary lens, which involves Tinbergen’s four levels of analysis.

10 videos (Total 67 min), 4 readings, 5 quizzes
2 hours to complete
Dogs Are Cognitively Remarkable
In this module, Dr. Hare describes how dogs are cognitively remarkable. He begins by explaining theory of mind, which, when viewed through the ecological approach, suggests that social problem solving drove primate and human cognitive evolution. Next, he describes how good dogs are at understanding communicative intentions, especially compared to apes. Dr. Hare has three hypotheses to explain the remarkable communication found in domestic dogs.

5 videos (Total 35 min), 2 readings, 3 quizzes


by LTAug 4, 2019
Great course with a lot of new information, not just about dogs but even domestication of other species, including humans. The predictability of aggression in humans would be an interesting next topic

By Ellie W

Apr 5, 2019

Fascinating material! I greatly enjoyed Dr. Hare’s presentations and learning more about dogs and cognitive processes across multiple species. I highly recommend investing in the optional reading material, “The Genius of Dogs,” book. This course was my first Coursera experience, inspiring me to check more courses. Thank you!

By Jeru J

Jun 1, 2019

This course is essential for a dog owner, business, trainer, or even if you are just a person who has an interest in dogs! Concise yet packed with information. Thank you


By Jennifer

Jul 14, 2021

Excellent course. Very interesting and made me think about how my Sunshine thinks. Unfortunately, she passed away a week ago and so I am not able to use Dognition with her. She is a Pekingese and has often been rated in low intelligence. Yes, she would not learn tricks and could barely be taught how to sit. Still, I often observed that she was very intelligent in that she was cunning or would find ways to communicate with me about a chew that was under that table and could not be reached, or a couple of months before she passed, would call me (even wake me up) to give her a piece of her treat. She had different barks, which I recognized as different needs eg when there is a stranger outside to when she wanted something from me. This course provided me with scientific acknowledgment of what I observed with Sunshine and also that it wasn’t just me that dogs (and animals) may have intelligence that we do not recognize as traditional intelligence of animals (eg doing tricks) or comparing it to humans.