Reading dog and cat behavior, with Daniel Mills

Animal behavior researcher Daniel Mills talks about various aspects of the human-pet relationship, with a focus on his research. Transcript below.

Topics include: dogs’ abilities to read human emotions and how they do that; the effects of pets on our mental health; animals’ ability to perceive images on a TV screen; the differences between the human and animal mind; pets’ abilities to sense their owners arriving home from far away; how cats communicate relaxation to each other.

Episode links:

Resources related to the talk:

TRANSCRIPT (coming soon)

Zachary Elwood: Welcome to the People Who Read People podcast with me, Zachary Elwood. This is a podcast about, amongst other things, understanding physical and verbal behavior. You can learn more about it, and sign up for a premium subscription, at

On this episode we’re actually going to be focused on animals: specifically how pets like cats and dogs make sense of human behaviors and how humans and pets interact.

I’m talking to Daniel Mills, a well known animal behavior researcher. He’s a Professor of Vetinerary Behavior at University of Lincoln in the UK. 

I enjoyed this talk a lot because it was a chance for me to ask Daniel a bunch of questions I’ve wondered about cats and dogs over the years. I’ll go through real quickly just a few of the topics we talk about: 

  • Pets and their effect on people’s depression and anxiety
  • The ability of dogs to read people’s emotional states from their face and body language
  • Dogs’ and cats’ abilities to perceive images on a TV screen
  • Studies that showed pets could sense their owners arriving home from a surprisingly long distance away
  • The idea that humans have maybe unconsciously bred some dogs to have more health problems because of finding that helplessness in some ways cute 
  • The different personalities of different cat breeds 
  • The polarized, contentious debate between punishment-based systems and reward-based systems in the dog training world

A little bit more about Daniel Mills: Over the last 25 years, he’s led the development of what has become known as the “Psychobiological approach” to clinical animal behaviour at Lincoln University. This synthesises contemporary behavioural biology and psychology with neuroscience to develop a systematic scientific approach to the assessment of problem behaviour in animals.

Daniel has done so many interesting studies, and we also talk about a lot of interesting studies other people have done. On the entry on my website for this episode, I’ll include some links related to the various things we talk about. Again, my website is 

Okay, here’s the talk with Daniel Mills.

Hi, Daniel. Thanks for joining me.

Daniel Mills: It’s a pleasure. Thank you for asking me to join you.

Zach: So, maybe we can start with the question of are there certain major themes or areas of interest that have unified your research over the years.

Daniel: I think I’ve been fairly eclectic. I’ve done lots of different things but when I think back, I guess the thing I’ve really been interested in most has been the expression of emotions in animals and how we read them and that side of things, but also how that feeds into our relationships, and how, again, how we operate around them affects those emotions as well and affects their emotional development. So that’s probably the broadest way of capturing what I get up to.

Zach: Do you have pets?

Daniel: Yeah, I have several. I’ve got a cat, we have fish, and we have tortoises.

Zach: Mmh, okay. No dogs.

Daniel: No. People are usually quite surprised that I don’t have a dog but because I travel so much, I just don’t think it’d be fair on a dog. My wife’s not- it’s not that she dislikes dogs, but she doesn’t really want the responsibility of looking after a dog, so it seems a fair compromise.

Zach: Yeah, I always feel bad for the people who have dogs that are, you know, they only have the one dog, and the dog doesn’t get out of the apartment or house much. Yeah. It feels like you either have to engage with them or get them a friend or something like that.

Daniel: It’s hard, yeah. I think it’s too easy to get a dog without thinking it through. And we’re seeing that now courtesy of the pandemic and people returning to work, and it’s reported that about a quarter of people who got a dog during the pandemic are now regretting it.

Zach: Oh, wow. And you’ve researched the pet relationships, human-pet relationships, and how that can influence people’s feelings of loneliness. Right?

Daniel: Yeah, absolutely. I don’t know how much people are aware of my background, but I’m a vet by first degree. And I went into practice, I really enjoyed being in practice, but I was fascinated by behavior and welfare and got interested in problem behavior. But in the last few years, I got much more interested in some of the positive benefits of pet ownership and the impact. It’s interesting because when you look at surveys, it’s quite clear that pets are part of the family. But when you look at surveys on human public health, they very rarely ask about pets in the home. And to me, it’s a little bit like, I don’t know, studying the weight of objects, you know? And you don’t ask them whether or not they’re using kilos or pounds or whatever…

Zach: That’s a key part of it.

Daniel: It’s such an integral part. Nearly everybody with a pet considers them part of the family and we know that they have an enormous impact. I remember several years ago being in the States and someone telling me that in quite a few communities across the states, a child stands a better chance of growing up with a pet than with their biological father, or in a lot of communities, actually with any father figure. And what pets are, they’re unjudging but you can confide in them, and this is sort of where some of our work looked at it. But a lot of the surveys, even if they do ask about pet ownership, they just ask, “Do you own a pet?” And given my background in dealing with problem behavior, to me, that’s a pretty rough measure because I know that owning a pet is not necessarily good for your quality of life. If you’ve got a pet with a problem behavior, which is what about half of owners do have, it can be a real drain on your mental health.

So we got interested in the idea of what is it that people do with their pet that contributes to their well-being. We sort of started to try and itemize things and then start to look. And again, when people have tried to explain the benefits of pets, they’ve tended to latch on to one particular theory. But actually, having a dog or a cat has loads of different effects. And for different people, that can be a good thing in different ways. We’ve tended to be far too simplistic or just to deny the value that pets play in our lives. And one of the bits of work we did where we looked at how pets were benefiting people, we did with a community of people who suffered from autism on the spectrum. What really struck us was how many of them said I’m only alive today because of my dog. Basically, they couldn’t face their dog being looked after by somebody else, and that’s what saw them through the low patches. Speaking to a colleague, actually, at our work here who works much more on farm animals and she’s done work with farmers, the number of them that said the farm dog was their close companion. Again, this is another community that has a high risk of suicide, they attribute a lot of that to the value to their dogs.

Zach: Yeah, the unconditional love aspect. Yeah.

Daniel: Well, as I said, I think it’s more than that. I think there’s security that comes with it as well. You can chat to a dog and you know they’re not going to betray you. I think a lot of people lack that in their lives now, but this has exercise effects… You know, there’s a myriad of things. With social media, there’s sharing pictures, and that builds a community around you. Interestingly, in somewhere like the UK or in the US, people consider walking the dog a beneficial activity. When we’ve looked at that in populations in Brazil, they don’t, because they’re worried about being mugged or their dog being stolen. So the same activity can be a stressor or a stress reliever depending on where you are.

Zach: I inherited this cat recently that- I didn’t want the cat but the previous owner of this house left it in this… It was living in this container behind the house and outside and so I felt bad for it and brought it inside. Now it’s an inside cat, a very nice cat, but… Sorry, I got some dogs barking. [Daniel laughs] It’s my sister’s house. One second, I’m going to shut this door. Yeah, one thing that strikes me there is there’s something calming just being around another living creature. It’s engaging. Just having a creature of whatever sort gives you something to focus on that’s not yourself, I think. I think there’s something to that.

We’ll now be hearing an ad. I don’t endorse these ads and I encourage you to remain skeptical of all ads.

Daniel: Absolutely. Yeah, that’s one of the other effects that we pulled out in our research. It was the importance of things like having an animal and how it put routine into people’s lives because a lot of people’s lives are chaotic. But there’s also the whole world of what we call emotional contagion and a lot of dogs are just so happy the whole time, you know? [laughs]

Zach: That’s positive. More than cats.

Daniel: Cats is an interesting one. I think with cats, it’s slightly different because cats are a little bit more refined. When they do choose to engage with you, you just feel so privileged. And so that’s, you know, it’s a different mechanism.

Zach: They’re more calming, yeah. They have a more sedative kind of quality. I was curious, when it comes to your full body of research, what are some of the most surprising and/or interesting things that stand out for you from your career?

Daniel: One of the things I find with my line of work is whenever we do an experiment, almost always somebody emails me and says, “Well, I knew that already.” And there’s always this disconnect between what we believe versus what we know, and people easily confuse that. So I don’t think there’s that much which has been groundbreaking.

Zach: It can have an intuitive quality, but knowing it is different than intuiting it.

Daniel: I mean, perhaps one of the surprising figures that came out was actually some of the work I did with people in our business school here. We estimated in the UK that pet ownership, probably so, saved our National Health Service something in the region of about two and a half billion pounds a year. Now, I think the national health budget is about 120 odd billion a year, so you can scale it up for whatever country you’re in. That’s a substantial amount. And okay, pets do cause bites and they cost health care as well, but just in the sort of mental health and some of the physical health, that’s the sort of figure we came up with. But I think the areas that I found most interesting, it has been the stuff we’ve been doing on emotion. So, our group, we were amongst the first to show that dogs must have a concept of emotion. Now, this might seem sort of facile to a lot of people but it’s one thing for an animal to express emotions, it’s another thing to have a concept of emotion. What the work we’ve done since has shown is that dogs live in this very emotional world, and reading emotion is really important to them. They’re not trying to read our minds, they’re responding to how we feel, and that seems to be more of their modus operandi, you know? That if you’re happy, I’ll probably be happy as well, and also you’re good to be with. If you’re angry, I will probably– if I’ve got a good relationship with you– try and take measures to change that. Because unless there’s something to be worried about, then you’re part of my group and I want to be… We should, again, have that emotional synchronization. And this crops up in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways. The classic is the owner who tries to get their dog to recall when the dog is chasing something, chasing a rabbit, which he shouldn’t be off the lead in any case doing. But anyway.

But let’s say it’s chasing a rabbit and the owner shouts at the dog to come, the dog sort of eventually loses interest in the rabbit when the owner turns an interesting shade of blue and comes back and says, “Oh, I haven’t seen you in that colour before.” The dog stops, typically, six feet away or something like that. And that’s out of the range of the owner to grab it and shove it on the lead. And there’s a good reason why the dog does that. Because first of all, two meters six feet is about the personal space of a dog. Once you go into that personal space, you mean something different to the animal. So, the dog stops at that distance and clearly it detects that the owner is not happy. They’re not analyzing things to any great degree. But here I am with you, I’m happy, you’re not. So what should I do? So what the dog does, especially as the owner lunges forward to shove it on the lead is the dog usually bounces around and runs off. He’s not doing it to annoy the owner, he’s doing it because he’s trying to entice play. He’s trying to change your emotion and synchronize with you because he’s been having fun. And of course, people get absolutely irate at that.

So that whole area of how we read animals, as I said, and how animals read us, I find absolutely fascinating. And as I said, dogs live in this very emotional world.

One of my researchers in Brazil did a really neat experiment, in which basically, you had two people who looked very similar. One was a giver and one was a taker, one was happy and one was angry and sometimes neutral. And we mixed up the various combinations so we could tease out whether or not the dogs were attracted to people who give or people who were happy or whatever. The dog watched the interactions and then needed the help of someone to get some treats. And basically, the dogs go for happy people, doesn’t matter whether you’re a giver or receiver.

Again, this is what I mean by them living in this very emotional world. We know across species about this idea of emotional contagion, but also emotional synchrony and behavioral synchrony. Simple little things make a big difference. So if you’re walking on your own or you hear footsteps, then the bit of your brain lights up, obviously, its associated with sound. But if you get two pairs of footsteps of people walking together, not only does the bit of the brain light up, but it triggers sound always associated with processing sound. But also, networks associated with social behavior come alive as well. A similar sort of thing we think goes on in dogs as well. So if you just walk in parallel with a dog– and we do this in the clinic, we greet clients and then we go for a little walk and we walk in parallel– it’s been shown experimentally, if you walk in parallel as opposed to walk across the dog’s field view, when the dog has to choose between the person who’s walked in parallel versus the person who’s walked in front of them, dogs almost always go for the person who’s walked in parallel. There’s that synchronization of behavior that says you know what, you’re part of my group, I can cope with you. It’s little things like that. And I love uncovering those sorts of things. The more I’ve studied this, the less I think that dogs are smart and the more I think they’re really attentive. And some people say, oh, isn’t it like unmasking a magician? But actually, I love it when I see those programs when they tell me how tricks are done. Because I think the ingenuity of that is just as fascinating as the magic show.

Zach: When it comes to dogs reading whether someone’s happy or angry or neutral or whatever, what are your thoughts on the main ways they’re doing that? Are they learning to, for example, understand human facial expressions even though those aren’t like the dogs? Or are there other factors?

Daniel: Yeah, that’s an interesting one because… You asked me about what I consider some of my best bits of work, and I guess from that perspective, it’s always good for a biologist if you can prove Darwin wrong, and that’s a good one for your CV. And that’s one of the bits of work that one of my PhD students did when we looked at emotional expressions. Because Darwin, as you are probably aware, wrote about expressions of emotions in animals and man. And he argued that they actually had a very similar expression across species. Now, we’ve known for some time that there are limits with that. For example, I think in one of the big magazines, when the space race was on there was this picture of a chimpanzee that had been in orbit and came back and he was grinning away and the headline was something like, “Pleased to be back on Earth.” Well, if you know anything about chimpanzees, you know grinning is a sign of sheer terror. But we looked at it in dogs and people and we found that, yeah, the dogs had different ways of expressing their emotion. So clearly, they do have to learn. But the other thing we found is that the way the dogs scan human faces is different to when they’re scanning dog faces. Dogs seem to adapt the way they read faces according to the species. Humans, by contrast, are pretty poor at doing that. And I think this is where people make the mistake because we tend to focus on eyes an awful lot. Eyes, they say are the windows of the soul, and that you can read a lot about a human by reading their eyes and the region around it. But when it comes to dogs, yeah, you can get some information but you really want to be reading ears as well and wrinkles on foreheads and stuff like that. And dogs seem to be actually much more flexible in that system than humans are.

Zach: So, are there other things that stand out? Have there been studies about the specific things that they’re noticing like if you blocked somebody’s face but showed them just parts of it? Have there been any kind of studies like that?

Daniel: There’s a neat study done by the group in Vienna where– and it came out around about the time we were also trying to look at the issue of whether or not dogs had a concept of emotion. What they did is they showed dogs the top half of a face versus the bottom half of the face, and they looked to see whether or not they could match. So if you had a happy face and you showed them just the eyes, would they match it with the happy mouth? And they do. So they could match that across. We’ve done some work and we’ve never published. It is one of those bits we did during COVID where we looked at dogs when people were wearing masks and things like that, and it does affect their ability to read what is going on as far as we can tell. So, yes, they can look at the eyes, but they seem to be slower in making their decisions.

Zach: Makes sense.

Daniel: Yeah, it’s harder. And I think that’s the thing. You know, we have a global way of processing faces and it is that much more difficult.

Zach: I imagine the dogs are very attuned to everything, like the posture, the tone of voice, they seem very tuned in to people’s tone of voice and whether they’re aggressive and things like that.

Daniel: Absolutely. And as I said, they’re looking at any clues to emotion. So at a distance, they’ll use things like body shape and orientation and also the way you move as cues.

Zach: Yeah, move fast towards you or something. Yeah.

Daniel: Yeah, and we always like to think that we’re really smart and we’re analyzing things. We respond to very simple cues. If you look– you can Google it– the biological motion, you’ve probably seen these things. We have a series of dots that move in a certain way and people say, “Oh, that’s a person walking towards me, or person walking to the side.” And actually, people will tell you the gender of the person as well because depending on where the dots have been put on the person’s shoulders or hips, we take that ratio and say that’s more likely to be female or male accordingly. So we did a bit of work where we looked at this in dogs and it was interesting because dogs seem to show the same sensitivity to this biological motion. So we’re not analyzing all the detail of everything, we look for configurations. That’s the way our brains work. It just get overloaded. But the interesting thing we found was that dogs who were sort of anxious, unlike the dogs that weren’t anxious who would tend to ignore a human that was walking across their visual field but would really focus on the dots if they looked like this person was approaching, the anxious dogs really focused on both of them. They just weren’t switching off. And I think this is part of the sort of stress that they’re under. If they’re anxious, things that they should ignore, they find difficult to ignore. And I’m sure that for a lot of people, you can relate to that when you’re feeling a bit anxious, you just can’t put things out of your mind. But if you’ve got that all day every day, that’s tough.

Zach: Right, you’re oversensitive to threats and throws off your radar for things.

Daniel: Absolutely.

Zach: So is part of it, do you think, when it comes to them reading or learning what different behaviors mean, maybe behaviors that they wouldn’t instinctually understand it, do you think part of that as them learning what behaviors are associated with lighter things? If they learn that a certain tone of voice is associated or correlated with the owner punishing them, then they’re going to learn that right in a Pavlov’s way.

Daniel: Absolutely. But there aren’t general biological rules. Nothing is ever nature or nurture. This is an easy thing. People say, “Oh, well, this is learned or is it genetic,” everything is both. With some of the facial recognition stuff, we looked at hunting hounds. There was a pack of hunting hounds near the university and we looked at them, and they weren’t as good as reading people’s faces because they live with other dogs and they don’t have that much context. That said, I do think dogs have been selected for being quite good at that. But there are general rules. In vocalizations, for example, we know that if you want to speed something up, then you tend to speak in a higher pitch tone. That sort of thing. Yeah? You want to slow something down, you use descending deep tones; whoa, slow things like that. It’s been looked at and it’s been found across cultures, people do that with their animals. We also know that when it comes to emotional vocalizations, the higher and the ascending pitches are much more likely to be interpreted as being more distressed. And if you think about your typical dog who gets left alone, it starts to bark and whatever. And as it gets more and more distressed, that bark gets higher and higher pitched. So those sorts of things, I think, they are general rules in biology so you can select for that. Some of the nuances, yeah, absolutely. The dogs have got to learn this. But I think dogs are primed to look at human faces. Dogs don’t have the greatest vision and part of what makes a good dog in a lot of homes is teaching them not to use their nose and to use their eyes. Because if they can predict they’re human, they can get an easy life. That’s sort of the role that their brain is working to. And the best way to predict your’re human is to use your eyes.

Zach: You had studied something about the left gaze bias. Could you talk a little bit about what that entailed?

Daniel: Yeah, the left gaze bias is a phenomenon, and this was one of the early pieces of work that got me into this area. I was chatting to a colleague [unintelligible 00:25:30] in psychology who worked on primates and humans– including humans– and he was telling me about the left gaze bias that because we have an area in the brain that processes faces as a globe, we don’t focus all the details like the biological motion, we look for simple configurations. And this is why people can see famous people in a piece of burnt toast or grain of woodwork because we’re primed to facial configurations, which typically is two eyes and a mouth and then we elaborate around it. He was telling me about this and he said you can use… We have a left gaze bias because it sits in the right side of the brain, this area for processing faces, and it results in us tending to look more towards the left. So if you’re in a rush in the morning and you’re putting your makeup on, then put it on the right side of your face because that’s where most people are going to be looking at your face. And I said, well, you can do that with dogs. And I said it’s so much easier with dogs than doing it with monkeys. So we did this. The interesting thing in humans, the configuration is two dots over a semicircle, you know, the smiley face. And you get what’s known as a facial inversion effect. So when you turn it upside down, people lose it. It’s not obvious to them. Because we’re looking for that configuration because we meet people when we’re standing up and when they’re standing up. When we did this with the dogs, we actually retained the left-gaze bias. And my colleague said, “Well, that’s really weird,” and I said, “Well, no, it’s not.” Because if you’re a dog, you’re often going to be lying on your back looking up at people and you got to process their face just as well upside down as you have the right way up.

Zach: Oh, wow.

Daniel: That was the hypothesis and we started to work with. And then we started to look at the effect of emotion. Because there’s an idea that different halves of the brain process emotions in different emotions. So, right side of the brain processes more negative emotion, and left side of the brain, more positive emotions. So you could end up with one effect of the different halves of the brain counteracting the other. What we found was that if you show dogs very positive images, they tended to develop a gaze bias. And if you showed the more negative images on the right side, then they have the left gaze bias. A lot of researchers, and it’s always one of the difficult areas– and I think in recent years, I’ve become more interested in this whole philosophy of science– people say well… In order to control things, experimenters had a neutral face throughout. And I’m thinking, “Is there such a thing as a neutral human face if you’re a dog?” So we presented them with the neutral face. And they had a left gaze bias pretty much as if it was an angry face. You think about it from a dog’s point of view, “A neutral human face? That’s weird.” You know? Of course, they’re going to process it as something negative. So this idea that the scientists are saying, “Oh, well, we’re going to have it neutral so we won’t interfere with the emotion of the situation,” no, I think you’re deluding yourself. [chuckles] It doesn’t work like that. We’ve got a look at these things from the animals’ perspective.

Zach: And that kind of reminds me of with humans judging people’s faces, some people will perceive a… What other people see as a neutral human face, they will see it as more negative or judgmental or unhappy, which kind of relates to maybe they’re just more threat-sensitive or something like a dog is.

Daniel: Absolutely, and that’s the thing. This whole idea of ambiguity and where we… It always pays to err on the side of caution because if you don’t run away when you should, you don’t get a second chance. A lot of people are worried about their animals, being anxious etc and you just have to explain to them brains are geared towards being anxious or running away, at least. Because, as I said, that’s the safe bet. That can actually, in itself, be quite a source of relief for a lot of owners to then realize that their animal… And I’m not a great fan of medicalizing behavior problems and I don’t want to belittle this distress that animals, including humans, have with mental health. But one I’ve been trying to do over the last 25 years is develop an approach to problem behavior called the psychobiological approach. It’s a fancy name, but all it means is that we make reference to internal psychological states, which I think we can infer with reason like motivation and emotion, and we can produce evidence to imply that. That’s probably my greatest scientific contribution, actually, that whole development of that field. And the biological bit is making sure it fits within an evolutionary framework. So I have lots of really good biologists that work around me and I’d come up with my ideas as to why a dog does something and they say, “That makes no sense whatsoever from an evolutionary point of view, try it again.” And that’s what I love. I love working with psychologists and biologists and loads of other people who are much smarter than me, and we come up with some great ideas as a result. Yeah. So this whole idea of… Animals, clearly, how conscious they are of things is a completely different question. But this was said earlier that they have this idea of emotion and they have a construct of it, what exactly they make of it and think of it is a completely different issue. But clearly, what I’ve tried to develop and I’m still working on is this idea that actually reading emotion is about… It’s what we call an affordance. An emotion basically serves a particular function. It indicates that you’re working in a certain way and you can use things according to the circumstance. I’m sitting on a chair at the moment and you can say the chair has the affordance of sitting. But if somebody would suddenly burst into the room and try and attack me, I might use the chair as a shield. That’s a different affordance. I think of emotions in that same sort of way. That actually, this emotion is– if you’re sexually aroused, it’s all about trying to breed. Yeah? Frustration. It’s about trying to take control of a situation Frustration arises when your autonomy or your ability to control things around you is limited or your expectations are not met. Fear is about when you perceive there’s a risk of physical threat, you take action in that in order to protect yourself. In the human field, people talk about things like phobia as if there’s suddenly a transition from fear to phobia. I just don’t get that. I think we’ve wasted lots of money in looking for something that doesn’t exist. Most of these things are extensions of normal biological processes and there’s not a sudden cutoff point at which this thing transitions. Our brains like to classify things. That’s the problem. So we like to have these labels. But actually, understanding them in that context– and that explains why we’ve even failed miserably to find reliable biological markers of things like depression in people. Because depression has its roots in a normal biological response. We know that if you live in a social group as primates often do, if you get involved with a fight, if you become behaviorally depressed, you’re much less likely to get kicked out. And if you get kicked out, you’re on your own and your chances of survival are very poor. So depression itself serves a useful function. It keeps you in the social group. Now, if we end up in an environment whereby we feel we’re completely out of control and we’ve got not really anything, then those same mechanisms that have biological value can cripple us. That’s where we need to be looking for the solutions, is understanding these things in the context of biology rather than in drugs. And I’m not belittling the value of drugs, don’t get me wrong. But I think that that’s where we need to become better biologists.

Zach: Right. What you’re saying reminds me of the work of  Richard Bentall who I interviewed for this podcast talking about the symptoms of so-called madness are fully comprehensible in terms of understandable psychological responses, and that’s what he has worked on. It kind of reminds me of that in the sense that you’re saying there’s not these distinct hard-to-understand pathologies, they’re understandable reactions that at least attempt to serve even if the person or animal doesn’t know they’re attempting to do something.

Daniel: Yeah, and I think there’s an interesting area. This area in the human field is called evolutionary medicine. Biological psychiatry Randolph Nesse is a leading proponent, a fascinating guy. If you can get him on to your show, I think you’d have a great conversation. There is an argument that says that our brains… I find it interesting when you look at human evolution, it’s only about 55,000 years ago that you find the first bits of human art, and there’s a painting of a pig that’s thought to be one of the earliest artistic representations. Well, what that suggests is that you can take something that you see and represent it in another way. We talked earlier about the idea of biological motion. You know, our brain has lots of shortcuts that we can use. The big step, I think, in human evolution was our ability to actually break some of the strong associations that naturally make sense, and become able to make associations in an abstract way. Just to illustrate the point, in the early work of learning theory, people like Thorndyke, he put cats in boxes and they had to press levers to escape. And what he found was that with experience, they learned to press the levers in an appropriate sequence, so they escaped more quickly. But if he waited till they licked themselves and then let them out, they couldn’t learn that association that licking myself leads to… Because why on earth would you lick yourself? Now, a human could probably learn that association. There’s so much we do that is effortless. And this is why– if going back to the emotions– emotions are linked to certain things and people can apply those emotions to abstract things. You know, people can be absolutely passionate about their car and stuff like that. To me, a car is very functional. I’d rather spend the money on my camera than a car. We’ve got that ability. But with that ability came the ability to plan. With the freeing up of some of the strong biological associations, we could plan things. We could hunt more effectively, we could not just go by simple cues. However, that comes at an enormous cost. That comes at the cost of mental health issues, you know? Because we can make those abstract associations. A dog worries about what it can predict, we worry about stuff that’s in the future that we have no control over. And I don’t think dogs transport themselves in time like that. So, again, whilst they have emotions, the quality of their emotions is very different to our own.

Zach: Right, the complexity of the human brain leads to all sorts of things that can go wrong.

Daniel: Your overlaying of it. We put so many… I was chatting to somebody the other day and I said I think perhaps the best analogy I can make is if you can imagine yourself where you’re so wrapped up in an emotion, you stop thinking about anything else. I think animals probably live in that much pure a state. That doesn’t mean that it’s always that intense, because I don’t think it needs to be intense. But for us, it needs to be intense for us to stop switching off our thinking part of it.

Zach: They’re really like the ‘be here now.’ They got the Buddhist mindset to an extreme or something.

Daniel: Yeah. And that’s probably why Buddhist meditation is good for us. Absolutely.

Zach: Getting in touch with our more animal pure instinct kind of thing.

Daniel: Okay, I’m going to be finicky here. We’re all animals, first of all. What it does is it switches off that cognitive element that confuses things. It gets us into a pure emotional state. You think about the relationship between thought and emotion. Our thoughts can intensify emotion and they can dampen them down. And they can do all sorts of things. We can generate emotions when there’s no real cue to it. The idea of some of the meditation, yeah, we get into that pure state and unadulterated. So that does feel good. But equally, you can create absolute pure terror as well.

Zach: Yeah, panic. Yeah. Like the cat in the transport container. Also, the aspect of watching animals can kind of put you in that state too because we sort of in a little way become what we observe and we we kind of inhabit their space a little bit, their mental space when we watch them. And I think that’s maybe one reason they’re a little calming for us.

Zach: Yeah, I think you’re right. Also, people often talk about this thing called flow. The idea that when you get into a task, if you get into a state of flow, you’re most creative and whatever and it feels good. I think that’s because we’re operating in this very automatic way of being. And that frees us a lot.

Zach: I was curious when you mentioned showing images to dogs, is that just like literally showing them a picture? Because I’ve sometimes wondered if dogs can even see what we’re… Sometimes I get the sense that dogs and cats aren’t really seeing pictures, and I’ve often wondered about that in terms of actual printed-out photographs or a screen. Do you have thoughts on that?

Daniel: Yeah, it’s a really good point. Because I remember many years ago going to a conference and a guy who’s actually a well-established scientist now, he was doing his Ph.D. and he was trying to look at chickens’ responses to video images and he was getting some really weird results. And then he said he realized that what’s known as the critical flicker fusion frequency, which is the point at which we see something as movement as opposed to a series of images, so much higher in chickens than it is in humans. So with a TV screen that might have been flickering at 60 hertz, we’d see a dynamic image, whereas a bird sees a series of static images, because their critical fusion frequencies is that much higher. And the same seems to go with dogs as well. It varies with individual dogs. I don’t think there’s an obvious breed difference, although there are all sorts of weird wonderful things about dog vision so the length of your nose predicts the way you see the world. But I can come back to that in a minute if I remember. Some dogs, I think, will respond to TVs as if they’re dynamic images and other dogs just see them as these flickering things. So we have to be careful of those sorts of things when we do our experiments. And one thing that we recently published on in a review was depending on the type of screen you’ve got, monitor– and there is a way the monitors are made– different colors show up with different intensities and with different heat. And we looked with thermography at some of the screens. What we found was that yeah, you wouldn’t have to be able to recognize the colours or the images, you could just use differences in heat pattern between the two images if you’re not careful. And we know dogs’ noses are really good at picking up temperature. So we always have to be careful of these things when we do it. We do a lot of work. A lot of people who work in this area show static images and they can be printed pictures, they can be projected images as well. But emotion is intrinsically very mobile. So we’ve done a variety of things. There’s a thing that known as… We use what’s known as eye tracking, which is where you put markers on the dog’s head and you can see where they’re looking at an image. That’s the way we do it. What we wanted to do was we wanted to use the eye tracker on the dog, and we had this series of sliding panels in it’s quite ingenious way. So the dog could be shown the real object, we could then slot in a screen so that the dog would be looking at a video feed of the same object, and another one where the dog would be seeing just a printed image. My suspicion is that things will be different. And we certainly know that when you’re showing dogs videos or emotions that they’re moving around the whole of the face the whole time depending on what else is going on and what they actually focus on. It’s not easy. No experiment is perfect but I do like this sort of more applied stuff in the field where we… A lab can tell you what can affect behavior. You can design an elegant experiment in the lab, so you can tease out one variable. When you get into the real world, just because it can affect behavior doesn’t mean that’s what’s controlling behavior. And I think this is another big fallacy that’s out there in understanding behavior. People resort to the explanations of what has been shown in a lab. Well, that’s just what’s been shown in the lab. That doesn’t mean these other processes aren’t involved.

Zach: That helps explain a lot because I’ve often wondered about the dogs or cats, some seem to respond to screens and see them and other dogs or cats just look at them blankly like that doesn’t seem like anything to me. So yeah, that’s kind of interesting that it can vary even within certain dogs and cats.

Daniel: Oh, yeah. I was going to say about dogs’ noses. This is a neat bit of work done by one of my friends in Australia, Paul McGreevy.

He showed that the length of the nose affects what’s known as the fovea area. Now, the fovea in humans is this area where you’ve got a high density of photoreceptors. It’s where we really pick up detail. And in humans, that’s a sort of circular area. And if you think about it, if you look in front of you, you realize there’s a central area where you can see high detail and the rest of your visual fields a bit blurry above and below and to the sides. That’s probably pretty good for processing faces. And interestingly, in a horse, we know they have a thing called a visual streak rather than a visual spot. They’ve got physical long noses. And that’s thought to be good for scanning horizons.

Zach: It’s a horizontal streak.

Daniel: Yeah. So rather than it being a circular area, you’ve got this narrow street particularly sensitive to movement in the case of a horse because you’re looking out for predators. You don’t need to know what the predator’s face looks like, you just need to know there’s somebody out there. And when he looked at dogs, he looked at the fovea– this visual street or visual spot, whatever you want to call it– and looked at the dog’s nose length. What he found was that the shorter the dog’s nose, the more their area of high density visual receptors was like a human. It’s more like a focal spot. And if you think about it, breeds with long noses like greyhounds, etc, they don’t need to know what faces look like. They’re there to catch prey, so they want to be able to spot the prey on the horizon and go after them. And think of most lap dogs, their short nose, and maybe… There’s a really interesting issue here, the dynamic between looking at what we’ve selected for consciously versus subconsciously. So, in the case of short-nosed dogs, did those dogs that had more of a focal spot, were they more able to read human faces and therefore better adapted for being lapdogs? Or did we find dogs with shorter noses cuter and therefore selected for them? I think the answer is probably both. And there’s this whole issue in going back to the fact that how we get dragged into on the basis of very superficial characteristics. So, this whole thing called baby schema. Babies while young tend to have much relatively larger eyes, higher foreheads, etc, shorter noses. And these are all cues that encourage us to care. And it’s obviously a system that’s developed in humans so that we care for our young, but it goes across species as well. So it’s not unique to humans. Maybe this is part of the driving force for why people have selected for some of these flat nose breeds in both cats and dogs that actually is tapping into that subconscious attraction.

Now, there’s all sorts of weird stuff that comes from this that it can potentially be taken to an extreme and so we’ve got some extreme breeds which actually are struggling to breathe. Interestingly, there’s another line of argument that says things like suffering, again, humans have evolved to care for others, and actually some signs of suffering in a slightly bizarre way might be attractive to us. Because you think about a toddler, their gait isn’t very good. So we may be attracted to animals that have this slightly stilted gait and so inadvertently be selecting for animals that are lame or struggling in certain ways. And actually, when you say to somebody that one of these animals has got a health problem, people’s reaction isn’t, “Oh, that’s… Well, maybe that’s terrible.” But then very quickly, it’s followed by, “Poor little thing, I need to look after it.”

Zach: It’s like part of what makes people like little babies is that their cuteness is associated with their helplessness.

Daniel: Yes, absolutely. And we may well have inadvertently selected for that in cats and dogs. An interesting bit of work we did a number of years ago looking at pain faces in cats, we started this is when we wanted to use some of the artificial intelligence to classify cats’ pain faces. When we started to look at different breeds, what we found was that the Persian cat’s starting face was very similar… The configuration of the face was very similar to the pain face of a normal moggy cat. So in a pain face and a cat, you see a tightening of the muzzle. Well, obviously when you’ve got a short nose and whatever, you’ve inadvertently got that and there are certain changes in the eyes. And it seemed that the starting to face for a Persian was actually what looks like a pain face. Maybe people then find that attractive. The other possibility is that actually Persians are in pain and they’re struggling to breathe, I don’t know. But I’m fascinated by this way in which human behavior gets manipulated. And it’s not a conscious thing or whatever, but equally how we deal with those things. And that’s, I guess, where my interest in human-animal interactions sits as well. You know, the impact that it has both as far as emotional load, having problem pets, etc, but also these very subtle little effects and how they nudge us in certain ways to think about things.

Zach: I was curious, with all your research when you encounter dogs or other animals, do you feel like you have a much better ability to read what they’re feeling, what their states are with your research?

Daniel: Yeah, absolutely. I do think that. And one of the other things which a couple of my poor PhD students in the past have been through, I’ve also appreciated that reading animals is not just about knowing what to look for. It’s a skill. And there’s some interesting work done by the Finnish group. And what they found, they looked at people who were doggy people and people who weren’t doggy people. And they basically put them into brain scanners and looked at the bits of the brain that lit up when they were shown different types of pictures. They could be shown pictures of people interacting, they could be shown pictures of dogs interacting, and they could be shown pixelated images which were the control. The interesting thing there was when we analyze humans interacting, we don’t just process the image, we use bits of the brain that are involved in social judgments, etc. And these people, when they saw the dog pictures, the doggy people used pretty much the same bits of the brain. The non-doggy people didn’t. This is what I mean. It’s one thing to know something, it’s another thing to be able to do it. It’s very easy to just say, “Well, look, it’s obvious. Well, it’s obvious if you’re a doggy person because your brain has actually sculpted itself in order to be able to read dogs better.” We recently did some work with cats and we asked people to record did they observe this in their cats and then send us some samples. Absolutely amazing. What we found was a lot of people were saying my cat never does this. And then they were sending us videos around about the time of feeding. In about 20% of cases, we were seeing at least one of these behaviors which they said never occurred in their animals. And that’s got to be a conservative estimate of the misreading. So as I said, it’s being that in tune. So I think it’s useful to know what to look at and where to look, but nothing replaces experience. I often tell people, you know, I’m the youngest of five children. My mum had five of us and my brothers were born first then my sisters, then she lost one and then I was born, so I was a sort of this thing that came after. And I had the dogs to play with because my brothers played together, my sisters played together, and maybe that’s where it came from.

Zach: Yeah. It reminds me of in poker tells– I don’t know if you know, I used to play poker for a living, I wrote some books on poker behavior aka poker tells, and it reminds me a lot of that because after you play enough, you have some instinctual kind of reading things where peripherally you know when somebody’s staring at you and you kind of pick up all these things without really trying, which are things that you wouldn’t have instinctually noticed. Yeah, I’m sure that applies for everything we do. It’s like in everything, there’s all this built-up complexity and experience that we just may not even consciously be aware of.

Daniel: But isn’t it fascinating, though? Because what that shows is what we’re capable of if we really focus. Yeah, you’ve learned to do that in poker. Yeah, your brain’s always been doing that, but you have tuned in and made it conscious. And people often say, you know, they might meet somebody and say I just don’t feel quite right. And there’s stuff that their brain is picking up. So little of what our brain picks up does it bother to tell us about. But we can tune into some of these things with practice. And I think that’s absolutely fascinating.

Zach: Right, making it more a little bit more conscious and able to use it as opposed to just like some semi-useful instinctual thing.

Daniel: Yeah.

Zach: I was curious. One other thing I was curious about cats, I haven’t researched this much or looked into it much, but it seems like there’s different breeds that have different personalities. Some breeds just seem much more friendly and playful and other breeds are more laid back and solitary and do their own thing. Are there studies about the personalities of different cat breeds?

Daniel: Yeah, there are. But we always have to be slightly cautious here. Because yeah, there is some work that people have looked at personality profiles or different breeds. And what you will see is that on average, and this is the key thing, on average, there are differences between breeds. But there is enormous variability within a breed. And this is a really important thing. It doesn’t just apply to cats, it applies to dogs as well. Breed itself is not a terribly good predictor of behavior. There are exceptions to it, you know, the floppiness of a rag doll you don’t get in many other breeds of cat. But when you’ve got these complex traits like sociability, then it’s actually very variable. And you stand a better chance of having a sociable cat if you go for certain breeds. Yeah?

Zach: Yeah, gotcha.

Daniel: To me, this is a really important point because this is where we’ve got problems with breed-specific legislation. And this is a big issue in this country at the moment, they now want to add the American XL bully to the list of banned breeds. I mean, I could rant on this for quite a while so I don’t know how big a rant you want. Do you want me to rant or not?

Zach: Maybe a short rant.

Daniel: Well, to me, to put it crudely, there’s all sorts of issues. First of all, from a genetics point of view, I say there’s enormous variability within different breeds. So even if they are different on average, it’s not a good predictor of the individual. A breed as a race. So if you believe in legislating against certain breeds, then you’re racist. It’s as simple as that, you know?

Zach: Okay.

Daniel: You’re saying that certain attributes, it’s fine to legislate against on the basis of race. I’m morally uncomfortable with that.

Zach: I haven’t heard that argument. Interesting. [chuckles]

Daniel: Well, what else is a breed other than a race? I could go on.

Zach: Yeah, I hear you. Yeah, I know that there’s a lot of emotion around the breed stuff.

Daniel: Again, I just want to make the point, it’s not about nature and nurture. As I said, I’ve spent most of my professional life working with animals that have bitten people and things like that. But by reducing, and I think this is the key thing with dangerous dogs, is that by reducing it to focusing just on the breed or focusing just on the owners, you oversimplify and you put people at danger.

Zach: It’s like you’re focusing on the wrong factors basically.

Daniel: You’re focusing on the wrong thing or you’re oversimplifying. When I grew up and I got bitten by the dogs, it was my fault. Now, it’s always the dog’s fault and the dog gets killed. So by focusing on breed and things like that, people shift the blame away from being responsible around dogs and they get bitten as a result. The other factor– I told you I was going to have a rant on this– the other thing is that soon as you label certain breeds as dangerous, you subconsciously label other breeds as non-dangerous. Which means that in people’s mind, they think it’s fine to rush up to that little golden retriever and throw their arms around it. No, it’s not. I’m sorry, that’s irresponsible. You know? There’s lots of ways in which this doesn’t actually help the situation of preventing people getting bitten. There’s all sorts of other cultural elements as well, you know? You ban one breed then they’re just going to go for something even bigger when it’s next time in certain cultures.

Zach: I’ve heard anecdotes about dogs, maybe other pets, knowing when their owner was home in a way that was very surprising or seemed very surprising, like knowing they were pulling up from pretty far away or walking from pretty far away. And I think there was even something I saw that was like a paranormal almost study where it was saying that dogs could detect their owners from a really abnormally far away thing. I couldn’t find much about that now that I was Googling it. But I’m curious, what is the deal with that? Are there some really surprising findings in there?

Daniel: There is a book called… I think it’s called something like Dogs Who Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home. The guy is actually a… He was a Cambridge scientist PhD. He was a biochemist, though. There are certainly some remarkable abilities. One of my colleagues at work actually ran a few experiments with some of these dogs I saw, but as far as we could tell, the dogs were making predictions on other cues. So the owners would come home at a certain time, what they would do then and what you found is that the dogs tend to move then to the front of the house so they would then be more attentive for cues of the owner. Even if the owner parked away, the dog could probably hear the engine and would recognize that particular engine and things like that. It goes back to what I was saying that dogs are incredibly observant and very tuned in to certain things. Rupert Sheldrake, that’s it.

Zach: Sheldrake, okay.

Daniel: Rupert Sheldrake. I actually find, you know, people who are willing to challenge some of our ideas, I find interesting. Because it does force us to think, “Well, how can we explain these things?” I don’t have a problem, I know some people say, “Oh, that’s just heretical to even think about that.”

Zach: Right, how dare you even broach the subject? Yeah.

Daniel: Yeah. But science begins with an observation. Somebody makes an observation. And to me, it’s then fascinating to think, “Well, that observation has occurred, why are people making that association?” That’s what good science does is it starts to try and unpick it.

Zach: Do you have any quick thoughts about the debate– Aaron Jones, a listener, sent me this question– the debate around more modern and gentle and positive reinforcement for dog training versus the traditional more harsh punishment training methods. They were saying it’s quite a polarized debate. I don’t know much about that but curious if you have thoughts on that.

Daniel: It is a very polarized debate. And if you don’t know my history, then you probably won’t know this then. We did work for the British government when they were looking at banning shock collars or E collars, whatever you want to call them. And we worked with the industry to design the experiments. We undertook the experiments and we drew our conclusions. It was a real eye-opener for me, not just the polarization, but what has the… A cultural shift in science. This idea that people employ lobbyists to try and win the argument as opposed to get to the truth. Now, science is about trying your best to get to the truth. As a result of that work, I have had lots of vitriolic messages sent to me and the people that employ me saying that my work is a disgrace, etc, because I came to this conclusion. And they use the most spurious things because I have said that I had concerns about the shock collars before we did the research. And they said, “Well, in which case your work is biassed.” No, it’s not. It’s called being a scientist. And this idea—

Zach: Yeah, everyone has beliefs. Yeah.

Zach: This idea that any scientist can approach a topic and not have any interest in it is a complete fallacy. You wouldn’t bother investigating if you weren’t interested in it.

Zach: It’s that way in politics too, where people are like, “You have an opinion, you’re biased.” It’s like, well, everyone has opinions. [chuckles]

Daniel: Yeah, but the difference with a scientist is you change your opinion with the evidence. That’s the thing. I didn’t set out, and openly said to the people, “Depending on what we find…” What I find really interesting is that our work on the handheld devices suggested that when you look at the totality of evidence, and this is the key thing, that there are problems there. Stuff that we didn’t publish where we had people who very kindly allowed us to go and watch them using these colors and they thought they were using them humanely. I was quite taken aback by some of the stuff that we saw. They were just blind to what was going on. Again, this is– how long have we got to discuss this?

Zach: Few minutes. [chuckles]

Daniel: Because I’ve heard people saying oh, well, come and do a podcast and defend my work, etc. And the fact that I’m not willing to do it indicates that I’m not happy. Well, the big lobbyists have got involved in this. In the UK, there’s a lobby group that in the past have worked about lobbying on tobacco and smoking as far as I can tell. These are the people that have been employed and they are very skilled in what they want to do, and they give people a script in order to try and challenge and undermine what is going on. To me, one of the issues is people have said, “Oh, these findings aren’t as clear as that.” Anyone can criticize a piece of work. There’s a good reason why a PhD takes you three or five years to complete. Because as I’ve said, developing a skill takes time. It’s one thing to know what to do. Critiquing a piece of work is about understanding what the limitations are and whether they affect the final outcome. Yeah. So when it comes to handheld devices, I think there are a number of problems, which is that humans are not very good at their timing, the vast majority. So there is a very great risk of abuse in this situation. And even people who might be quite skilled seem to use them in ways that I think are unnecessary and causing suffering. The idea that using shock collars stops dogs from disturbing livestock, I think is a complete red herring. If you’re in anywhere near livestock, your dog should be on a lead. That’s the only way you stop the dog, you know? Our work shows that you can train dogs just as effectively to do these sorts of recalls around livestock with positive reinforcement. So to me, it’s just unnecessary. I’ve gone into that simply because this is something that is out there that I know people criticize me for. It’s interesting when they criticize me, they make no mention of the work that we did on electric fences with cats that found that there were no great welfare issues there as far as we could tell. Yes, obviously, the cat gets an electric shock, but the cat is in control of the situation. It gets a buzz and it can make the choice. It doesn’t depend on a human pressing a button. So I think they’re completely different issues. That’s the shock collar debate.

Generally, the use of aversive versus use of rewards, I see problems with both in the clinic. But I think that the problem with the use of aversives or more punishment-based methods is I think it damages the relationship. You know? If you’ve got a partner, they do things that you like. I hope they don’t do them because they’re afraid to not do them. They do them because they love you. And I think that’s a perfectly reasonable expectation to have of your dog. So, why seek to control them in that way? And I think it says more about the human psyche we’ve got to be careful of. It’s not about not setting boundaries. Absolutely. And I see this. People who use rewards or whatever and they don’t want to use any form… They never want to say no to the dog. Then the dog can be an absolute nightmare. But by the same measure, you don’t need to use physical punishment. You look for those opportunities. When your dog is doing things that you like and you say thank you. The analogy I make is– and I think, again, people confuse obedience with well-behavedness. And I often tell clients this. I’ve got– I call them boys, they’re both grown ups– my boys are obedient and they’re well-behaved. If we finish a meal, if I ask them to put the dishes in the dishwasher, they will do so. They’re well-behaved. They do it anyway. I don’t want to be asking them every time. But by setting up the environment so that when they were younger, we would say thank you, they just do it. That’s a much better way of being than thinking I’ve got to control them and tell them what to do with the threat of punishment.

Zach: Right. Like you’re saying, you don’t want a relationship, even for only being selfish, you don’t want a relationship that’s just based on the entities around you being afraid of you and constantly being frightened.

Daniel: Yeah. Unfortunately, the use of punishment does really screw up development. It does it in kids and it does it in dogs as well. If I have a dog, I don’t have a dog at the moment, but if I had a dog, I want that dog to be my best friend or one of my best friends. I want him to want to spend time with me. I don’t want him to live in fear of me and I don’t want him to live in fear of livestock. In fact, just this morning, I went for a walk this morning through the village and there was a lady standing by a field nearby with her golden retriever watching the horses in the field. And I just said to her, “Really nice to see you just standing there, you know, your dog learning to watch horses rather than chase them.” And she said, “Yeah, it’s much nicer.” You’ve got to put in the effort. If you take an animal into your life– and to me, it’s a social contract, the same as a relationship with a human, it’s a social contract. You don’t have the right to have it all your way. You wouldn’t expect that with your partner. It’d be very unhealthy. Even if you do love them and you do everything you can and you build your world around them, they still have a voice that you should listen to. You shouldn’t dictate everything. And I think the same goes with our pets. It’s just unnecessary. It’s unnecessary if you know how to use rewards well.

Zach: Yeah, I think it comes in especially because people feel in a rush and the quickest thing to do is punishment. It takes more thought and conscientious effort to do more reward or positive things, but I can see how people feeling rushed and frustrated in their lives and that that is the quickest seeming thing to them.

Daniel: Yeah, and I think it’s… I don’t like the fact that people, in effect, can see animals then as commodities. They’re not. If you want to buy an expensive watch and smash it up, that’s up to you. But when it comes to a sentient being, it’s not up to you. I think there’s a moral argument there. We have a responsibility. They’re not just a commodity. You are the owner. And I know people say, “Oh, well, we should call them pet parents.” You’re not the pet parent. You are legally the owner. You own them. But you own something that has feelings and I think we need to… It’s good for human health as well to be a bit more mindful rather than going for the quick solution.

Zach: That was animal behaviour researcher, Daniel Mills. One thing I forgot to ask Daniel about was something about cats. Years ago, I had read that one way cats bond with each other is by looking in each other’s eyes and slowly closing their eyes. This basically is showing to each other that they aren’t a threat, that they’re comfortable not having their eyes full alert and watching each other. So when I meet cats, I tend to always do that. I look at them and slowly lower my eyes. And I found that they will usually return the favor. So basically, it’s like a shortcut for forming a bond with a cat. I asked Daniel about that and he shared some studies about that specifically. I’ll include those on the entry for this episode on my website,

This has been the People Who Read People podcast with me, Zachary Elwood. If you like this podcast, just a reminder that you can sign up for a premium subscription, which gets you a few perks but mainly, you’d be encouraging me to do more of this work. Thanks for your time.