Duke University’s ‘puppy kindergarten’ will help raise assistance dogs

This article was originally published by Orlando Sentinel

Brian Hare and Canine Companions service dog

Anyone who has ever witnessed a dog delightfully roll around in a pile of stink knows that the canine brain operates a little differently than ours.

But Brian Hare, the man who persuaded Duke University to open a center devoted to dog psychology, understands what goes on between those furry, floppy ears better than just about any human — which is why he’s now working with Canine Companions for Independence® on “Puppy Kindergarten.”

Canine Companions® provides assistance dogs free of charge to adults, children and veterans with disabilities. In a new venture between the nonprofit and the North Carolina University, Hare is taking in 8-week-old Canine Companions pups at Duke to study their traits and experiences. Then he’ll track them through formal Canine Companions training to see which qualities turn out to foreshadow success — sort of like the parent of a Rhodes scholar who can boast that his kid memorized the periodic table at 3.

“The big question for us is: Can we come up with ways to ways to predict the puppies that are going to be most likely to make it through the Canine Companions training and graduate?” said Hare, founder of the Duke Canine Cognition Center, during a recent visit to Orlando. “Because if we can do that, we can increase their supply and help more people.”

Click here to see the original article from the Orlando Sentinel and video interview with Dr. Brian Hare and Dr. Brenda Kennedy from Canine Companions.