*** RECENT SHELTER DOG OWNERS: please email to book your first visit ***

Sign Up!

Participate in our fun, cognitive games.
Contribute to citizen science.

For Students

Are you a student interested in research?  
Do you want to join our team? Learn more!


Do you have questions? We have answers!
Learn more by clicking the link below!

Let’s do some dog science!

1. Go to SONA website

SONA is our participant management system.  

2. Request an account

Have more than one dog? Every dog needs their own SONA account to participate. Note: Leave the student ID empty.

3. Get your login info via email. 

You will get an email with an autogenerated password. Go back to SONA to make your own password. 

4. Complete the prescreen. 

The prescreen tells us a little bit about your pooch! This helps us understand what they are and aren’t interested in doing. 

5. Send us your vet records 

We ask that all participating dogs be vaccinated against rabies. Submit them here.

6. Sign up for an initial visit

The initial visit is your dog’s first visit to our lab. It is a get-to-know-you session that helps us understand more about what your dog is and isn’t comfortable doing. We play fun games with your dog and they get lots of snacks. Want a sneak peak? Check out this instagram video.

7. Get study invitations from SONA

After you complete an initial visit, you will get study invitations for studies you’re eligible for. Emails are sometimes randomized, so if you don’t get an invitation, check your SONA account. It automatically shows you the studies your dog is eligible for. 


Before your visit:

1. Send us your pal’s rabies records! HTTP://TINYURL.COM/BCCCvetrecords

Day of: 

2. Double-check your GPS. Our address is 247 Beacon St, Chestnut Hill and not Boston! Those are different places. If you put McGuinn Hall, you may be directed to 140 Commonwealth Avenue which is also not correct. 

3. Call us before leaving home to give us your ETA. 617-552-3068. We will meet you downstairs so you’re not waiting! 

3. We have free parking! We’ll show you where to park once you get to 247 Beacon St, Chestnut Hill.

Questions? Check out our FAQ on the bottom of this page! 

For Students

At the Boston College Canine Cognition Center, we proudly mentor a team of dedicated, brilliant undergraduates. Every semester we recruit new research assistants who are ready to contribute to the field of academic inquiry.

We take students of all experience levels and ages, with an interest in supporting academics from all walks of life. Our lab deeply values mentorship and education; as a research assistant of the BCCC, you’ll have all the information and guidance that you’ll need.

Do you want to be a part of this elite crew of researchers? Click below to find out more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Study Dogs?

Humans and dogs share an environment. Don’t believe us? Well — don’t you, your family, or your neighbors have dogs? Additionally, dogs and humans engage in behavior that’s relatively rare, and that’s sociality. The fact that humans and dogs can co-exist with many other individuals is a special trait that may have evolutionary implications. All of this to say — dogs and humans have a lot in common. We’re interested in understanding the relationship between these commonalities to better understand what dogs can tell us about the evolution of humans.

What do dog cognition studies look like?

Our research involves lots of treats! We use simple games and custom puzzles to measure how dogs make choices in certain situations. We look at all sorts of things. Examples include measuring a dog’s gaze or asking a dog to choose between two locations. 

The games we do are relatively simple, but en-mass give us insight into the ways dogs make decisions.

How do I sign up?

You can make an account on SONA to get started. After you request an account and change your autogenerated password, you’ll need to complete a pre-screening upon your first log-in. This must be done for every new dog you bring to the lab.

After your pre-screening, submit your dog’s rabies records to, then sign-up for an initial visit at!

Does my dog go alone?

Nope! We center the dog’s comfort at all times. Part of that means making sure the caretaker and the dog are never separated.

I have two dogs. How do I use SONA?

Each dog must have their own SONA account. This will require the use of more than one email address.

How old does my dog have to be?

We don’t have an age limit! As long as your dog has a rabies vaccine (which does have an age limit) they can come in.

Who can come to the lab?

We welcome participants to bring guests if they’d like! Only one person can be in the testing room at a time, but your friends can still watch from our screen in the waiting room.

There must be at least one person who is 18 years or older to sign our consent forms. If there are under-aged individuals who wish to enter the testing room, their parent or legal guardian needs to be present for them to participate.

How can I learn about your research?
How can I join your research team?

Please carefully review the for-students page of our website. We strongly recommend subscribing to our application listserv, linked on the for-students page.  Additionally, you will find detailed information for our semester and summer applications. Due to the small size of our team, we are unable to accept unpaid volunteers.

SONA confuses me

Check out this 9-minute tutorial on how to use SONA.