Nebraska dog lovers can learn more about how their pets think during Husker DogFest, a free public event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 7 on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s City Campus.
The event will be south of Manter Hall, 1101 T St. Free parking is available in the Stadium Drive Parking Garage.
It is the first DogFest to be staged by the university’s Canine Cognition and Human Interaction Laboratory since the COVID-19 pandemic. The lab, part of the Department of Psychology and the Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior, was established by Jeffrey Stevens, Susan J. Rosowski Professor of Psychology, in 2018.
“DogFest is an opportunity for dog lovers in the community to learn more about dogs and talk to researchers about the work we are doing to better understand them,” Stevens said. “We’ll have demonstrations of some of the studies we’ve conducted, and attendees can even participate in a study that we have going on right now.”
The lab researches both dog psychology and how dogs influence human behavior and psychology.
Though having a dog is not required to attend, pet owners are encouraged to bring their well-behaved, leashed dogs to the event. However, pet owners will be required to sign a liability waiver, to be provided at the event. New this year, researchers will collect data on dogs in attendance.
Activities will include police K9 unit and disc dog demonstrations, as well as a photo booth and talent show. DogFest will feature a mini dog lab, where dog owners can test their pup’s smarts.
The event also will feature a recent Canine Cognition Lab study that examined whether dog owners can predict their pets’ impulsiveness.
“Can their dogs resist temptation, or will they give in to their impulses?” Stevens asked rhetorically. “They will have to come by to find out the answer.”
For a recent study, the Husker researchers were among 20 teams from nine countries who studied more than 700 dogs to determine how the animals understand human communication signals. The study found dogs are good at reading human signals, but their abilities are limited when the signals are subtle.
A soon-to-be launched study will look at dogs’ understanding of numbers and quantities, such as whether a dog can see the difference between four and six treats and whether a dog perceives two half-size treats the same as a single full-size treat.
DogFest is sponsored by Arnie’s Pet Food, as well as DogGurt, Kenl Inn, Knowles Law Firm, Lucaly Co., Raising Cane’s, Sirius Veterinary Orthopedic Center and Urban Hound. There will be booths from dog-focused organizations and businesses: Capital Humane Society, DogGurt, Domesti-PUPS, Golden Retriever Rescue in Nebraska, Hearts United for Animals, Kenl Inn, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors, Lucaly Co., Nebraska State Patrol Police Service Dog Division, Sirius Veterinary Orthopedic Center, UNL Companion Animal Science Program, Uplifting Paws, Urban Hound Dog Park and Bar, and Zoom Room Lincoln. Mary Ellen’s Food for the Soul is the food vendor.