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Dogs create a ‘mental representation’ of objects they smell
“Although they had obviously noticed the toy, they continued to search via smell, probably for the toy that had been used to lay the scent trail.”
Scientists say dogs have concrete expectations when tracking scents 

A new study suggests that dogs create a ‘mental representation’ of objects they perceive through smell. What’s more, they show signs of surprise if they find an unexpected object at the end of the scent trail.

Whilst dogs are renowned for their excellent sense of smell, little research has been done on how they perceive objects through scent.

A study published in the Journal of Comparative Psychology tested 48 dogs, 25 of which were police or search and rescue dogs. The remainder were family dogs with no specialised training.

During a pre-test, scientists identified two toys that each dog liked to retrieve. Each dog then underwent four trials in which they followed a scent trail drawn with one of the two toys. At the end of the trail, the dogs either found the toy with which the track had been laid, or the other toy.

Study director Dr Juliane Bräuer said the dogs showed ‘hesitation’ during the first round of the ‘surprise’ condition, where they found a different toy at the end of the trail.

“Although they had obviously noticed the toy, they continued to search via smell, probably for the toy that had been used to lay the scent trail,” she explained.

However, this effect disappeared in the subsequent test rounds, which scientists say could be because they dogs were rewarded with games, regardless of which toy they found, or because the room still smelled of the toys from previous tests, despite being cleaned.

As expected, the police and rescue dogs retrieved the toys faster than the family dogs, but interestingly this effect also disappeared within four rounds.

Researchers say further studies will help to clarify the connection between smell perception, search behaviour and cognition.

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Webinar to explore the meaning of veterinary leadership

News Story 1
 The WSAVA has announced a free webinar exploring the meaning of veterinary leadership in the 21st century.

Taking place at noon on Tuesday, October 19, the webinar will explore the role of veterinary professionals in leading on animal welfare, the leadership competencies required of all veterinary professionals, and the effects of leadership style on teams.

The webinar, which ends with a Q&A session, will be moderated be WSAVA President Dr Siraya Chunekamrai and led by Veterinary Management Group President Richard Casey. For more information and to access the event, click here

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News Shorts
Horiba announces veterinary haematology webinar

Horiba Medical has announced a free webinar providing practical insight on best practice in veterinary haematology. Entitled 'In practice haematology - Beyond the pale!' the webinar will be presented by Ronnie Barron from the University of Glasgow Veterinary School.

Ronnie's presentation, which will conclude with a Q&A session, will look at QC and artefacts of sample quality and review the effects of different pathologies. Using images, photomicrographs and video links, he will also explain the techniques and equipment needed to complement analytical automation to confirm results quality.

The webinar takes place on Thursday, October 28 (7.30-9pm). For more details and to register, click here.