Monique Udell is a PhD candidate in Psychology at the University of Florida specializing in canine social cognition and behavior. Her work emphasizes the importance of early and lifetime experience in the development of canid responsiveness to human action. As one of the founding members of the Canine Cognition and Behavior Lab at the University of Florida, Monique has had the opportunity to compare the behavior of domestic dogs living in different environments, with the behavior of other canid species including wolves, coyotes, and foxes.
A 2007 trip to Wolf Park in Battle Ground, IN, changed Monique’s perspective on the human-canine bond. Here she was able to study the behavior of human-reared wolves; comparing their ability to follow human gestures with the performance of domestic dogs on the same task. These wolves excelled on human-guided tasks; indeed they were better at following human gestures than were pet dogs tested outdoors and dogs living in a shelter. Since this time Monique has published numerous journal articles supporting a new approach to understanding human-canine interactions. Instead of assuming a rigid predetermined responsiveness to human action, this work acknowledges the malleable nature of dogs’ social behavior in the presence of humans, placing great importance on informed socialization practices as well as the value of training and reinforced experience.
Monique has participated as an invited speaker and discussant at national and international scientiﬁc conferences and workshops. Her work has also been featured in The Economist, New Scientist, and APA Monitor on Psychology among others. Although heavily focused on her academic pursuits at present, Monique continues to be involved with dog training and consulting and instructs an online canine cognition course through E-training.com. She believes that a deeper understanding of canine cognition and human-canine interactions can result in even more effective and enjoyable relationships with dogs.