60 Minutes Visits Duke Puppy Kindergarten, Sunday

National broadcast to spotlight Duke research on the science of canine learning and development

A 60 Minutes film crew captures members of the Duke track team embracing a kindergarten puppy. Photo by Jared Lazarus
A 60 Minutes film crew captures members of the Duke track team embracing a kindergarten puppy. Photo by Jared Lazarus

The national CBS broadcast “60 Minutes” will highlight Duke research on the science of canine learning and brain development and what it can tell us about human evolution. The report will be broadcast locally at 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 27, on WNCN, Channel 17.

Funded by the National Institues for Health, the Duke Puppy Kindergarten was the first academic center of its kind and is advancing research on the development of potential assistance dogs. Each semester, more than one hundred Duke undergraduates help raise puppies from Canine Companions from 8-20 weeks of age. The students also run the puppies through a range of cognitive games that will function as a kind of early aptitude testing, which will be used in the future as early identifiers of puppies who are most likely to graduate as assistance dogs.

This past spring, the 60 Minutes crew visited the puppies during their training and filmed their training and interaction with students and other members of the community. “The work at the center is about how we can do even better raising great dogs,” said Brian Hare, professor of evolutionary anthropology and director of the Duke Canine Cognition Center, which oversees the kindergarten.

“Our work is all about testing ideas about how dogs grow their minds and bodies and how we can give them a headstart in life,” Hare said. ”We are especially proud of what we are learning that will help us make more service dogs available to those with physical and mental challenges.”

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Duke Stories: Duke Puppy Kindergarten