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NEWS LESSONS / Dogs are either optimists or pessimists, claim scientists / Intermediate

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Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2010
Dogs are either optimists or pessimists, claim scientists
Level 2 Intermediate
If you feel _________________________, you feel sad and without hope. (para 1) 1.
If a person or an animal is _________________________, they are not affected by strong emotions, such as 2.
excitement, anger, shock or fear. (para 1)
If someone is 3. _________________________, they are worried because they think that something bad might
happen. (para 2)
If you _________________________ something, you give up ownership of it. (para 3) 4.
Someone who is _________________________ deliberately tries to upset others or cause problems for them. 5.
(para 3)
If you have _________________________, you have problems of some kind. (para 3) 6.
A _________________________ is a doctor for animals. (para 3) 7.
A _________________________ is a particular type of animal that is different from others but not so different 8.
that it is another species. (para 4)
A _________________________ is a round container used for eating, serving or preparing food. (para 5) 9.
If something is described as _________________________, it is not clear or it is capable of being understood 10.
in more than one way. (para 5)


calm anxious ambiguous vet relinquish
breed gloomy spiteful bowl issues
Key words 1
Fill the gaps in the sentences using these key words from the text.
Find the information 2
Find the following information in the text as quickly as possible.
How many pet dogs are there in the UK? 1.
How many dogs were studied in the research? 2.
How old were the dogs? 3.
How long did the researchers play with each dog? 4.
How long were the dogs left alone for? 5.
What does RSPCA stand for? 6.
NEWS LESSONS / Dogs are either optimists or pessimists, claim scientists / Intermediate

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Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2010
Dogs are either optimists or pessimists, claim scientists
Level 2 Intermediate
Dogs are either optimists or
pessimists, claim scientists
Ian Sample
11 October, 2010
Scientists have now confrmed what many pet
owners have long believed: some dogs have
a more gloomy view of life than others. The
unusual picture of canine psychology came from
researchers at Bristol University who studied
how dogs behave when separated from their
owners. Dogs that were generally calm when
left alone were also found to have an optimistic
attitude, while those that barked, relieved
themselves and destroyed furniture seemed to
be more pessimistic, according to the study.
Michael Mendl, head of animal welfare and
behaviour at the university, said that if a dog was
anxious when left alone by its owner, it would
be pessimistic in its behaviour. The research
suggests that the problems caused by some
dogs when they are left alone could indicate
deeper emotional problems that could be treated
with behavioural therapy.
Owners see this kind of anxious behaviour in
dogs in different ways. Some are very worried,
some relinquish the dog to a dogs home, but
others think the dog is happy or just being
spiteful, said Mendl. Some of these dogs may
have emotional issues and owners should talk to
their vets about possible treatments, he added.
Of the ten million pet dogs in the UK, around
half may show anxiety when left alone, the
researchers said.
Mendls team studied 24 animals at two dog
homes in the UK. Half of the dogs were male
and they were various breeds. They were from
nine months to nine years old. Researchers
began the study by going to a room with each
dog in turn and playing for 20 minutes. They
returned the next day, but this time left the
dog alone for fve minutes, during which the
scientists recorded the animals behaviour with
a video camera. They used the flm to give each
dog an anxiety score.
A day or two later, they trained the dogs to walk
to a food bowl that was full when placed at one
end of a room and empty when placed at the
other. When the dogs had learned the difference,
the scientists tested the animals mood by
placing bowls in ambiguous positions in the
middle of the room, for example and noting
how quickly each dog went to the bowl.
The dogs that had been most anxious in the
earlier test were slowest to approach food bowls
placed in or near the middle of the room. This
suggested that they expected to fnd the bowl
empty. The less anxious dogs ran to the food
bowls, suggesting that they were more optimistic,
according to a report in Current Biology.
We know that peoples emotional states affect
their judgements and that happy people are
more likely to react positively in an ambiguous
situation, Mendl said. Our study shows that
dog are similar that an optimistic dog is less
likely to be anxious when left alone than one
with a more pessimistic nature. Samantha
Gaines, deputy head of the companion
animals department at the Royal Society for
the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said:
Some dogs may be more likely to develop
these behaviours and should be re-homed with
appropriate owners.
Guardian News & Media 2010
First published in The Guardian, 11/10/10
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NEWS LESSONS / Dogs are either optimists or pessimists, claim scientists / Intermediate

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Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2010
Dogs are either optimists or pessimists, claim scientists
Level 2 Intermediate
Comprehension check 3
Are these statements true (T) or false (F) according to the text?
All dogs have a pessimistic view of life. 1.
Dogs do not all behave in the same way when they are left alone. 2.
Dog owners react in different ways if their dogs are anxious. 3.
The researchers recorded the dogs behaviour while they were playing with them. 4.
The anxious dogs were the quickest to approach the food bowls. 5.
Unhappy people are more likely to react negatively in an ambiguous situation. 6.
Find the word 4
Find the following words and phrases in the text.
an adjective meaning 1. relating to dogs (para 1)
a refexive verb meaning 2. to pass bodily waste (para 1)
a noun meaning 3. health and happiness (para 2)
a two-word expression meaning 4. treatment designed to improve behaviour (para 2)
an adjective meaning 5. different (para 4)
a two-word expression meaning 6. one after the other (para 4)
a verb meaning 7. to write something down so that you will have a record of it (para 5)
a verb meaning 8. to accommodate with new owners (para 7)
Two-word expressions 5
Match the words in the left-hand column with those in the right-hand column to make two-word phrases
from the text.
animal a. therapy 1.
emotional b. owner 2.
behavioural c. situation 3.
food d. welfare 4.
pet e. bowl 5.
ambiguous f. issues 6.
NEWS LESSONS / Dogs are either optimists or pessimists, claim scientists / Intermediate

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Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2010
Dogs are either optimists or pessimists, claim scientists
Level 2 Intermediate
Discussion 7
Do you like dogs? Why? Why not?
Word-building 6
Complete the table.
noun adjective
1. anxiety
2. emotion
3. ambiguity
4. optimism
5. behaviour
6. spite
NEWS LESSONS / Dogs are either optimists or pessimists, claim scientists / Intermediate

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Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2010
Dogs are either optimists or pessimists, claim scientists

Level 2 Intermediate
1 Key words
gloomy 1.
calm 2.
anxious 3.
relinquish 4.
spiteful 5.
issues 6.
vet 7.
breed 8.
bowl 9.
ambiguous 10.
2 Find the information
ten million 1.
24 2.
from nine months to nine years old 3.
20 minutes 4.
fve minutes 5.
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty 6.
to Animals
3 Comprehension check
F 1.
T 2.
T 3.
F 4.
F 5.
T 6.
4 Find the word
canine 1.
relieve oneself 2.
welfare 3.
behavioural therapy 4.
various 5.
in turn 6.
note 7.
re-home 8.
5 Two-word expressions
d 1.
f 2.
a 3.
e 4.
b 5.
c 6.
5 Word-building
noun adjective
anxiety
emotion
ambiguity
optimism
behaviour
spite
anxious
emotional
ambiguous
optimistic
behavioural
spiteful
KEY