Our Founder - Becky Trisko, PhD
Becky grew up in a house full of pets and has loved animals for as long as she can remember. In 1996, she began studying primatology at the University of Michigan. She studied the chimpanzees at Lincoln Park Zoo as an undergraduate and later took an internship at Zoo Atlanta studying Golden Lion Tamarins.
In 2000, she began working in an emerging new field… dog daycare. While working at daycares and kennels in Atlanta and Chicago, Becky became fascinated by the complex social relationships that the dogs formed with one another. Some dogs became fast friends, some hated each other right away, others played together a lot but occasionally got into squabbles, always making up afterwards. The social relationships among dogs were at least as complex and interesting as those she had studied in primates.
In 2004, Becky went back to graduate school at the University of Michigan to study social behavior in dogs and wolves. She opened up Unleashed in 2007 to create the perfect environment to observe dogs for her doctoral research and the perfect place to work after she finished school. In 2011, she completed her dissertation titled “Dominance, Egalitarianism and Friendship at a Dog Daycare Facility.” Her study is an in-depth examination of the social relationships of daycare dogs and a comparison of relationships across species.
Becky, along with her advisor, colleague and friend, Dr. Barb Smuts, has published 2 articles about dominance and friendship in dogs in the peer-reviewed journal Behaviour:
“Dominance relationships in a group of domestic dogs.”
(2015) R.K. Trisko & B. Smuts
“Affiliation, dominance and friendship among companion dogs.”
(2106) R.K. Trisko, A.A. Sandel & B. Smuts
Becky has also been interviewed for 3 issues of Bark Magazine.
The “D” Word: Dominance
by Karen B. London, PhD
by Julie Hecht
by Julie Hecht
Becky applies her research on dog behavior to the real world, helping to keep dogs safe and happy when they socialize in group settings. She uses what she has learned about dogs over the years to manage the dogs and train the staff in her own daycare and to help others do the same in theirs. Click here to read more about Becky’s consulting services for dog daycare owners.
If you’re interested in what scientists are learning about dogs, check out the books on Becky’s recommended reading list:
“For the Love of a Dog” by Patricia McConnell, Ph.D.
“If Dogs Could Talk” by Vilmos Csanyi, Ph.D.
“Inside of a Dog” by Alexandra Horwitz, Ph.D.
“Dog Sense” by John Bradshaw, Ph.D.
“Merle’s Door” by Ted Kerasote (This one is light reading compared to the others, about a wonderful dog named Merle, but there are some scientific findings in there, too).