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NOVA: Dogs Decoded

Airs Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Rebel — a dog participating in a scientific study at the University of Lincoln to see how dogs see the world. NOVA investigates new discoveries in genetics that are illuminating the origin of dogs — with revealing implications for the evolution of human culture as well.

The Meaning Of Dog Barks

Listen to a variety of dog barks—from woofs to whines—and try to interpret their meaning.

Dr. Lyudmila Trut with a domesticated silver fox in Siberia.
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Above: Dr. Lyudmila Trut with a domesticated silver fox in Siberia.

Dogs Around The World

Match 14 dogs to the environment they were bred for, from the rugged mountains of Argentina to the Australian outback.

Dogs have been domesticated for longer than any other animal on the planet, and humans have developed a unique relationship with these furry friends. We treat our pets like a part of the family, and we feel that they can understand us in a way other animals cannot.

Now, new research is revealing what dog lovers have suspected all along: Dogs have an uncanny ability to read and respond to human emotions.

What is surprising, however, is new research showing that humans, in turn, respond to dogs with the same hormone responsible for bonding mothers to their babies. How did this incredible relationship between humans and dogs come to be? And how can dogs, so closely related to fearsome wild wolves, behave so differently? It’s all in the genes.

"Dogs Decoded" investigates new discoveries in genetics that are illuminating the origin of dogs—with revealing implications for the evolution of human culture as well. NOVA also travels to Siberia, where the mystery of dogs’ domestication is being repeated—in foxes. A 50-year-old breeding program is creating an entirely new kind of creature, a tame fox with some surprising similarities to man’s best friend.

"Dogs Decoded" reveals the science behind the remarkable bond between humans and their dogs and spurs new questions about what this could mean for our relationships with other animal species.

This episode originally aired in 2010.

NOVA is on Facebook, and you can follow @novapbs on Twitter.

Video

Preview: NOVA: Dogs Decoded

Above: In "Dogs Decoded," NOVA investigates new discoveries in genetics that are illuminating the origin of dogs — with revealing implications for the evolution of human culture as well.

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