Title: Seeing smells: Olfaction in domestic dog cognition research
One of the challenges of animal cognition research is overcoming anthropocentric sensory biases—in particular, favoring visual information and cues despite the dominance of other sensory information in nonhuman research subjects. Newly popular as a subject in comparative psychological research, the domestic dog presents an opportunity to expand our understanding of nonhuman sensory experience in two ways: first, to explore both how researchers may steps to control for and attend to the sensory world of their study species; second, to begin to detail the sensory experience of an animal in an anthropocentric environment. Domestic dogs are well known for their reliance on olfaction, but dog cognition and behavior research rarely incorporates olfactory information. I review how previous studies have (or have not) taken olfactory cues into account, and propose a simple rubric of recommended reporting of olfactory information in research contexts. I also discuss work exploring the olfactory with respect to questions of cognition and welfare.
Dr. Alexandra Horowitz is the principal investigator of the Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab.