ManyDogs Project: A Big Team Science Approach to Investigating Canine Behavior and Cognition
Dogs have a special place in human history as the first domesticated species and play important roles in many cultures around the world. However, their role in scientific studies has been relatively recent. With a few notable exceptions (e.g., Darwin, Pavlov, Scott, and Fuller), domestic dogs were not commonly the subject of rigorous scientific investigation of behavior until the late 1990s. Although the number of canine science studies has increased dramatically over the last 20 years, most research groups are limited in the inferences they can draw because of the relatively small sample sizes used, along with the exceptional diversity observed in dogs (e.g., breed, geographic location, experience). To this end, we introduce the ManyDogs Project, an international consortium of researchers interested in taking a big team science approach to understanding canine behavioral science. We begin by discussing why studying dogs provides valuable insights into behavior and cognition, evolutionary processes, human health, and applications for animal welfare. We then highlight other big team science projects that have previously been conducted in canine science and emphasize the benefits of our approach. Finally, we introduce the ManyDogs Project and our mission: (a) replicating important findings, (b) investigating moderators that need a large sample size such as breed differences, (c) reaching methodological consensus, (d) investigating cross-cultural differences, and (e) setting a standard for replication studies in general. In doing so, we hope to address previous limitations in individual lab studies and previous big team science frameworks to deepen our understanding of canine behavior and cognition.
Keywords: dogs, ManyDogs, big-team science, canine science, replication