Sunday, 25 June 2017

Companion Animal Psychology News June 2017

Favourite posts, photos and podcasts of the last month.

June 2017 news about dogs and cats


Some of my favourites from around the web


“None of us see animals clearly.  They’re too full of the stories we’ve given them.” What animals taught me about being human by Helen MacDonald

Can dogs help solve our childhood obesity problem? Hal Herzog PhD on childhood obesity and dog ownership.

Sniffing kitten butts for science  to find out how mother cats recognize their kittens, by Mikel Delgado PhD.

Should we call these canine behaviours calming signals? By Karen London PhD at The Bark.

"Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: My dog used to love to play with other dogs, and then one day she didn’t." Tracy Krulik on dog-dog reactivity.

“Making a fearful dog's life better is a long game.” Living with and loving a fearful dog, by Casey McGee at Upward Hound.

If you need a cheerful story, read this: It takes a village… love hope and a lucky Penny by Lori Nanan from Your Pit Bull and You.


Pets in the news


Important new position statement from International Cat Care on declawing in cats  “The operation to declaw does not just remove the claw, but also the end bone of the toe (equivalent to removing the end of a finger to the first joint in humans).”

Earliest evidence for dog breeding found on remote Siberian island.

Animal abuse in some form is present in 89% of domestic violence cases.

Canada needs laws to prevent the euthanization of healthy pets, says lawyer.

Diabetes-sniffing cat Charlie is a lifeline for his owner.

The Economist wonders whether emotional support animals should be allowed in the cabin of planes.

A massive study of ancient and modern cat genomes reveals an interesting history.

Sadly, a ban on the docking of puppy’s tails has been scrapped in Scotland after MSPs vote to allow exemptions. You can read Dogs Trust’s response here.

And senior nurses in the UK say pets should be allowed to visit their owners in hospital.


Events


But my dog isn’t food motivated. Webinar by Kathy Sdao for Doggone Safe 28th June 2017

A brief history of corporal punishment by Jean Donaldson for Doggone Safe 5th July 2017

Dr. Clive Wynne Behavioural solutions to behavioural problems. 29th July 2017 in Melbourne, Australia


Photos, videos and podcasts


Dog photographer of the year 2017.

Cones of fame turns dreaded collars into fashionable accessories that help shelter dogs find homes.

Why do dogs have whiskers? Featuring Dr Jessica Hekman.

Adorable animal photos by Gerry Slade help rehome unwanted pets in Bury.

Why are some animals pets and others are lunch? Featuring Dr Hal Herzog.

Learn to sniff like a dog and experience the world in a new way. The Invisibilia podcast from NPR spoke to Dr. Alexandra Horowitz.


Here at Companion Animal Psychology


There’s still time to purchase a Companion Animal Psychology t-shirt. 100% of the proceeds go to help animals at the BCSPCA Maple Ridge. Thanks to everyone who has bought one!

29 blogs took part in the Train for Rewards blog party, which was on its second year of celebrating and encouraging reward-based training. Dogs, cats, and even a pet pig featured in the posts. As well as enjoying the posts themselves, it’s a chance to find new bloggers to follow. Don’t miss it.

My interview with Dr. Christy Hoffman has had a wonderful response, and I also published a post about her recent research (with Dr. Malini Suchak) on dog rivalry.

This month, the Companion Animal Psychology book club has been reading The Inner Life of Cats: The Science and Secrets of Our Mysterious Feline Companions by Thomas McNamee. The book club takes July off, but stay tuned to find out August’s pick.

And finally, I chatted to Colleen Pelar and Julie Fudge Smith at Your Family Dog Podcast about how to make happy dogs even happier.

If you’re not already a subscriber, why not sign up to follow Companion Animal Psychology by email?




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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

What Helps Shelter Dogs Get Adopted and Stay in Homes?

A new literature review looks at how shelters can increase adoptions and reduce animal relinquishment.

A cute mixed breed dog lies down with a ball in its mouth


The review, by Dr. Alexandra Protopopova (Texas Tech University) and Lisa Gunter, looks at the factors that affect adoption rates, the effects of interventions, and how to decrease the numbers of people giving their dogs to shelters (or returning dogs after adoption). The review is important because it will help shelters to know about evidence-based ways to reduce the number of dogs in shelters.

Although some factors vary from one country to another, some things are consistent: people spend very little time looking at a shelter dog before deciding to adopt, and they pay attention to the dog’s size, breed, and colour.

Dogs can arrive at shelters as strays (the most common route in the US), by being surrendered by their owner (about 30% of dogs in shelters in the US), after being seized in an animal cruelty investigation, or by being returned following an adoption that has not worked out.

The review found a dog’s appearance is an important factor in its adoption. People also seem to prefer dogs that were surrendered by their owner rather than strays, and are influenced by breed labels with dogs described as pit-bull types taking longer to be adopted. One study at a Florida shelter found that removing breed labels was successful at improving adoption rates of pit-bull type dogs (adoption rates of other dogs were unchanged).

If people decide to spend time with a dog, then its behaviour becomes more important, with people adopting dogs they describe as showing calmness, friendliness and playfulness. But the decision to adopt a dog or not is typically made after only 8 minutes.

A study by Protopopova et al (2014) found people are more likely to adopt a dog if it plays with them and lies down near them. Following this, Protopopova et al (2016) found adoption rates were increased 2.5 times with an intervention that both encouraged play (using the dog’s favourite toy) and then keeping the dog on a short leash and using treats to lure it into a down position near the potential adopter.

A cute, happy mixed-breed dog looks at the camera
Photo: Tom Feist; top, Emily on Time; both Shutterstock.

Other strategies have looked at reducing the number of dogs relinquished or returned to shelters. Young dogs are more likely to be relinquished, and there are differences between relinquished dogs and those kept, as well as between the people who relinquish dogs and those who don’t. Moving house and difficulties in finding rental homes that take pets, and personal issues, all play a role too, showing how complicated an issue it is.

About 15% of adopted dogs are subsequently returned to the shelter in the US. Again, returned dogs are typically young, and there is a range of reasons including housing, personal issues, and behaviour issues that are typically spotted quite soon after the dog was taken home.

Since so many dogs end up in shelters as strays, microchipping and identification tags would go a long way to being able to return dogs to their owners. Unfortunately, studies of providing education and/or training and behaviour information to people adopting dogs have not always had the positive results you might expect. However, a program that used foster homes (including giving the foster responsibility for finding the dog a new home) had promising results.

The review also looks at the issues with behavioural assessments of shelter dogs, and points out areas where we need to know more (such as the behaviour of people thinking of adopting a dog). Finally, wider community involvement may help too.

Although we know quite a lot about how dogs end up in shelters, a lot more research is needed to help design evidence-based programs to reduce relinquishment and increase adoptions. This paper is a useful summary of what we know so far.

You can follow the researchers on Facebook: Dr. Alexandra Protopopova at the Human-Animal Interaction Lab and Lisa Gunter is part of the Canine Science Collaboratory headed by Dr. Clive Wynne.




Reference
Protopopova, A., & Gunter, L. M. (2017). Adoption and relinquishment interventions at the animal shelter: a review. Animal Welfare, 26(1), 35-48.
Companion Animal Psychology is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

The 2017 Train for Rewards Blog Party

Welcome to the Train for Rewards blog party! The party aims to encourage people to use rewards when training their dogs or other companion animals.

Check out all the wonderful blog posts from some amazing trainers. As well as lots of great posts, you will find new bloggers to follow.

The blog party celebrates what we can do with reward-based dog training, encourages people to use rewards in training their pets, and inspires people to improve their technical skills and understanding of how reward-based dog training (and cat training etc) works. (See the invitation and rules).

Take Part in Train for Rewards on 16th June


  • Read the blog posts, comment on them, and share your favourite posts using the hashtag #Train4Rewards
  • If you train your dog, cat, ferret, rabbit, horse, pig, etc. with rewards, share a photo of your pet on social media with the hashtag #Train4Rewards
  • Afterwards, reward yourself for participating with a piece of cake, some chocolate, a glass of wine, a walk on the beach, or whatever makes you happy. (Feel free to tell us about this part too!).







The blog party about reward-based training for dogs and other pets

Spreading the Word on Reward-Based Training

Sometimes, we all need a little encouragement.

A cute Chihuahua and a ginger kitten sitting on a table


The Train for Rewards blog party is all about encouraging people to use rewards when training their companion animals (here's why it's such a good idea).

And although it’s mostly about dogs – because they are the species we devote most time to training – any companion animal can be trained with rewards.

The best reward to use is food. Good food, in fact.

As a society, we have this mythology around dogs that they should just do what we say out of respect and love. The myth that if we have the right personality, dogs will do what we want without them even needing to practice. It doesn’t do us or them any favours.

Dogs and cats are wonderful but they both need motivation in training. That’s why using food is so great: it works.

And it should be good food, like chicken.

Sometimes this surprises people; I am regularly asked why kibble isn’t best. But of course, your dog can get kibble anyway. You’re asking them to do something – and good food that isn’t normally available is a lot more motivating. Added bonus: you’re also providing food enrichment by adding variety to their diet.

The mythology around dogs is so great that sometimes when I suggest people use food, they think I mean for them but I must have some magic that means I don’t use food myself. Don’t worry, they soon start to call me “the chicken lady.”

The real break-through is when they too become the chicken lady. Or the peanut butter cookie lady. Or the tuna fudge guy.

Two dogs' noses sticking out from under a blanket
Photo: dezi; top, Otsphoto. Both Shutterstock.


Not too long ago, I spoke to two amazing animal trainers and asked them about the rewards they use to train dogs and cats.

Here’s what world-renowned dog trainer Jean Donaldson, author of Culture Clash, told me about how she motivates her dog Brian:

“He’s very about primal nibs. He’s about this stuff called Rawbble which is little kind of freeze-dried raw things. He’ll work very nicely for chicken breast and I cut it into tiny little dice. He’ll work for cheese. He’ll occasionally work for a toy but not much, he’s not incredibly toy-driven and so I generally train him with food.”

And Dr. Sarah Ellis, co-author (with Dr. John Bradshaw) of The Trainable Cat, says food is the best reward for cats too.

“…we have to think about what really is rewarding for a cat, because it’s certainly not our social attention, for most cats. And when we first start training a cat that’s not been trained before, the most rewarding thing generally for cats is food.”

Three cute tuxedo kittens sitting on a fluffy white rug
Photo: Africa Studio (Shutterstock)


And this is what she says about using the right-sized reward for a cat:

“…even the size that commercial cat treats come in are far too big to be a single training treat. So I very often recommend that if you are using commercial cat treats, use the freeze dried ones or the semi-moist ones, because you can pull them into much much smaller parts. If we’re thinking about a prawn, not a king prawn just an average normal prawn, I would break that maybe into four or five parts at least.”

So: chicken breast; freeze-dried raw things; pieces of prawn. That’s what it’s all about.

Of course there’s a hierarchy of treats. If chicken is your default reward, save your very best (like tripe stick) for behaviours that are a lot of work (such as coming when you call).

It’s easy to get started with reward-based training. But not everyone has someone they can ask about training methods, and there’s a lot of erroneous information out there.

A Bernese Mountain dog spreads the word on training treats


I am lucky to know many talented dog trainers. But I know some people feel isolated in communities where there isn’t much expertise in training animals with methods other than “dominance” or shock. And I know some people feel locally isolated, but part of a wider community thanks to online networks and gatherings at events and seminars.

Things are changing.

More and more people are learning why and how to use rewards in training their dogs, cats, and other animals. And this is something to celebrate.

On Friday, 16th June, come and check out the posts in the Train for Rewards blog party and feel cheered by all the brilliant people who are spreading the word about reward-based training. See you there!





P.S. If you want to know more about the science of dog training, a new literature review recommends reward-based dog training and I also keep a list of scientific articles on dog training (and places to read about them for free). If you want more of the practicalities, check out my user-friendly guide to positive reinforcement.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Interview with Dr. Christy Hoffman

Dr. Christy Hoffman on her research on dog rivalry, how to increase shelter adoptions, and why Anthrozoology is such a fascinating subject.

Dr. Christy Hoffman with her two dogs
Dr. Christy Hoffman with her two dogs. Photo: Stephanie Handley


I spoke to Dr. Christy Hoffman (Canisius College) about her research on the factors that lead to a successful human-animal relationship.

Zazie: I’m really excited to chat with you! I wanted to start off by talking about your recent study with Dr. Malini Suchak if that’s alright.

Christy: Sure.

Zazie: You were looking at rivalry and decision-making in dogs and you decided to investigate this by looking at dogs that already know each other and in their own homes. Why do you think it’s so important to study canine cognition in the dog’s familiar environment and with dogs that they already know?

Christy: Well, we wanted to do that because, based on our understanding of dog behaviour and experience, relationships are really important when determining kind of the competitive nature of dogs. Because it often depends on who the dogs are in relation to each other, who’s going to be more competitive, rather than necessarily being an individual characteristic of a dog. Both of us have primate research backgrounds so we realize that relationships are really important and context is really important when looking at competition between animals. And so that's why we really wanted to test dogs in relation to dogs they already knew and spent a lot of time with.

And then in terms of studying the dogs in their own homes, we felt like we would have a better chance of getting an understanding of the dog’s typical behaviour in being able to study the dogs where they’re most comfortable. I’ve done studies that have brought dogs to the Canisius College campus in the past and they did fine in the study, but we definitely had to take time to get them acclimated to the environment and all the new smells and new people. And so by studying the dogs in their own homes we could kind of avoid all those potential confounds.

"So within a household, one dog might care more about human attention and the other dog might care more about food."

Zazie: Brilliant, thank you. So in this study, one of the dogs saw the other dog approach a plate and eat the food, and then they had a choice of whether to go to the same plate which is now empty or another plate which has food on. What would you say you found?

Christy: Well within the household some individual dogs were classified as low-rivalry and some as high-rivalry and that was based on James Serpell’s Canine Behaviour and Research Questionnaire, which the dog owners completed before they even knew anything about the study that we had planned. We just said this is an online survey. And so we could split these dogs into these two categories, and we found that dogs that fell into the high-rivalry category were more likely to go directly to the plate that still had food on it, compared to the dogs that were low-rivalry who tended to first check out the plate that the other dog’s already eaten off of. So that plate had no food. So it doesn’t seem like necessarily a very smart decision, however those low-rivalry dogs still were able to access the food. We weren’t trying to train them to go to an empty plate or a full plate, we just wanted to see what their natural inclination was.

And we also found that this difference disappeared though, when we gave dogs a chance to think about it or a chance to process what was going on. So the low-rivalry dogs tended to kind of follow if there was no delay between when the first dog took the food off the plate, walked round the corner out of the room, and we let that low-rivalry dog approach the plate. If we only had that dog wait 5 seconds before approaching the plate, then that difference between the low and high-rivalry dogs disappeared.

Christy Hoffman with her dog Grizzly
Dr. Christy Hoffman with her dog Grizzly. Photo: Stephanie Handley


Zazie: I think that’s really interesting. And you did it with dogs and with a person, so you had the person take the food as well to see if the dog followed the person. So do you think the dog rivalry scale also relates to a dog’s relationship with people?

Christy: Erm, I think potentially. So dog rivalry, the questions on the C-BARQ really get at aggressive tendencies between dogs that know each other that live in the household together. And there are a lot of correlations between dog-related aggression, human-related aggression as well. So others have found looking at the C-BARQ data, because the C-BARQ does have questions about human-directed aggression as well as dog-directed aggression. So certainly there could be that relationship there. And it may also relate to an individual dog, how that dog experiences the household. So the interactions with the other dog in the household and the humans as well might be affecting the dog’s tendency to follow.

"...it kind of took me by surprise in the dog world that dominance might as well be spelled with four letters, rather than however many letters are in dominance."

Zazie: Okay, thank you. I wonder if we could just clear something up for readers of the blog, some of whom are more used to hearing people talk about relationships in terms of dominance rather than rivalry. Rivalry’s not the same thing as dominance, is it?

Christy: No, it’s really interesting. When looking at past studies of dogs’ relationships with other dogs and tendencies to follow, other studies have used the term dominance, and it’s a tricky word in the dog world. Coming from the non-human primate side of things where we talk about hierarchy and dominance quite regularly, it kind of took me by surprise in the dog world that dominance might as well be spelled with four letters, rather than however many letters are in dominance. Because it’s been really misunderstood and taken out of context, the term dominance, when we talk about dogs. And so while there’s still, at least in some groups of dogs, there’s still evidence of hierarchy, we really have to be careful when we’re talking about that word dominance.

And what we found when we asked owners who they felt was kind of more the leader in the household, or which dog got his way more, it was really interesting that the owners consistently said that this was something that was inconsistent. So it really depended on the context. So they would say well, dog A is always going to eat first, but dog B is always going to run out of the house first when we open the door. Or Dog B is always going to be the one that barks at the window first, but dog A is going to be the one that interrupts me when I’m petting Dog B so that I can pet Dog A. So there’s a lot of variation in dogs. I think it goes back to variability within dogs about what they care about. So within a household, one dog might care more about human attention and the other dog might care more about food.

Two West Highland Terriers relaxing together
Photo: OlgaOvcharenko/Shutterstock


Zazie: Great, thank you. So I also wanted to ask you about some of your research on shelters because you’ve done a lot of research about how shelters can improve adoption rates of dogs and also cats. If you were talking to shelter workers about this research, what would you most want them to know?

Christy: I really would encourage shelters to use the data that many of them have at their fingertips, because a lot of shelters are using really great and powerful databases. So they’re collecting information about when dogs come into their shelter, when they leave the shelter, what those outcomes are – were the dogs adopted, were they transferred, did their owners reclaim them or were they euthanized? And they also are recording in these databases information about the dog’s age, the dog’s breed, the dog’s colour, some of them have information about the health status of the dog or the dog’s size. And if they’re able to use this information from their database, if they’re able to look at that it can really help them to decide where to focus their efforts and their resources, especially in terms of what dogs are they marketing, you know, and what needs to have priority in that organization.

"Save the toy for the cat that really needs a toy in the picture with them."

What my graduate students and I have found over the years is that when we do ask shelters for information, which many have kindly obliged us with that information, but it’s become clear that they don’t know off the bat how to access the information. Or it may take them some time because they’ve never actually down-loaded the data into an Excel spreadsheet before, or looked at the data in the way that we’ve been looking at it. And I think that that would be a very powerful tool for them if they were able to look at their data a little more systematically.

Zazie: Definitely. So what kind of things do you think make a dog get adopted more quickly?

Christy: Well, from a study that a former graduate student Miranda Workman and I did together on cats, we found that if cats are photographed with toys in the picture they tend to be more popular on Petfinder, which is the site that we were looking at data from. And they also tend to be adopted more quickly. So if there are animals, particularly cats, that maybe don’t photograph well or that you have an idea may be sticking around the shelter for a longer period of time, adding a toy to the photo may help increase interest in that particular cat. I did hear though that one shelter at least heard about our study and they just started throwing a toy into all of their cat’s photos, but it kind of undoes the effect. Save the toy for the cat that really needs a toy in the picture with them.

Zazie: So save it for the cats that need a bit of extra help.

Christy: Right.

Zazie: I wrote about that study on my blog and actually that was a very popular post. Lots of people read that one and were very interested in that one, so that was very good.

A cute calico cat with a toy
Photo: Piyato/Shutterstock


Christy: I really do appreciate how you’ve covered several of my studies, because I can’t usually afford open access fees to make the studies readily available to the public and animal shelters. And I certainly don’t want shelters paying $35 to read any of my papers, so I really do appreciate that you help take that to the public.

Zazie: Oh good. I enjoy doing it and I think people don’t realize that sometimes with open access papers the researcher has had to pay a lot of money for that to happen. Another study that you’ve done, which I haven’t written about but I wanted to talk to you about, is you’ve looked at the factors involved in animal transfer programs where some shelters bring in pets from a long distance away. I was wondering what some of the lessons were that you found out from that study?

Christy: One that really surprised us… well first of all it surprised us that there’s really not much literature, or any that we saw, on these animal transfer programs, which kind of inspired us to do this very exploratory, very preliminary study. I’ve noticed that over the past year or so some of the large animal welfare groups, animal advocacy groups, in the United States have been doing webinars and writing blogposts about best practices in animal transfer. Which I think great because from our very qualitative, very preliminary study, we were surprised that there is a lack of consistency across organizations in terms of what veterinary care they required the animals to have prior to being transported, and also what their policies and procedures were once they brought – the study focussed on dogs – once they brought the dogs in.

"And so another key theme that came out from our study was the importance of honest, clear communication between the organizations that are receiving the animals and the organizations that are sending them out."

Some of them had quarantine periods where they had the dogs separate from other dogs for a certain amount of time, but a lot did not, and not everybody even indicated that they required vaccines prior to transport. So there definitely needs to be more investigation, because it could be that the way we asked our questions, a lot of our questions were open-ended so maybe somebody just didn’t think to put ‘we require rabies vaccines’. But if they’re really not requiring a rabies vaccine, or other vaccines, that’s very, very concerning. Especially since a lot of the groups in our study are animal rescues that don’t have shelter facilities, so they are putting dogs in people’s homes into foster care. And without best practices in place that could make people’s own animals vulnerable to infection from animals being brought in. So it seems that there’s room for improvement in this area, to better understand it and make the prospects for the dogs coming in better, you know make things so that they stay healthy, and keep the population that you already have healthy.

We also found that some organizations said that they had broken off relationships with the shelters that they had taken dogs in from in the past, because those organizations had been dishonest with them. You know, they would say they were getting a Labrador and it’s not a Labrador when they pick up the dog or the dog arrives at their door. And so that’s created problems too. And so another key theme that came out from our study was the importance of honest, clear communication between the organizations that are receiving the animals and the organizations that are sending them out.

An adorable dog sits on a yellow chair
Photo: aaor2550/Shutterstock


Zazie: And sometimes if an organization is thinking of setting up that kind of program, especially if they’re bringing in dogs from overseas perhaps, local people might be concerned or express a worry that local dogs might suffer as a result. Do you think that’s the case or not?

Christy: That’s definitely a concern brought up quite a bit in discussion of the animal transport. And it seems to be it depends on the location of the organization bringing in the animals and the demands on their system from the local dogs. And so one argument that people talk about is how bringing in dogs from elsewhere often helps diversify the population of dogs available for adoption. So for example, in many parts of the north-Eastern United States, there isn’t the large number of dogs coming in from the local community to the shelters. And of the dogs that are coming in, there’s not a lot of diversity in terms of the size of the dogs or the breeds of the dogs. And so bringing those animals in from the South or from certain other parts of the world might increase that diversity. I think also it’s tricky because, you know, breed and size of dog aren’t everything, and so having an understanding of dogs’ early life histories when possible is really important. And you know, making sure that the people that are sending the dogs out are sending out good representatives from their community. Because definitely there have been organizations as well that relationships have broken up over sending really adorable dogs that don’t have adorable personalities.

Zazie: Oh dear. So you mentioned Labradors… dogs being described as Labradors when they weren’t necessarily Labradors. And one of the studies you did a few years back was actually about Pit Bulls, and what shelter workers recognize as Pit Bulls. And I found that really interesting, because I come from England which has Breed Specific Legislation and Pit Bulls are not allowed. But sometimes here at the shelter where I volunteer, I find that people describe a dog as a Pit Bull and I look at it and I think I wouldn’t have called that a Pit Bull, so I found differences. So what did you find in your study?

Christy: Well, that study I did with Carri Westgarth who is in England at the University of Liverpool, and if you don’t mind I’ll tell you the back-story of how we came up with the idea for the study.

Zazie: Okay.

Christy: We were at the International Society for Anthrozoology conference in Cambridge, England, in 2012, that’s where we met for the first time. And we were at a pub, cos that’s what you do in England, you go to pubs, right?! At the end of the day, after the conference, we were in a pub and I was showing her some dogs that I had worked with when I was living in Chicago at the time, at the shelter. So I was quickly scrolling through on my phone saying “Pit Bull… Pit Bull… Pit Bull… look at all these Pit Bulls that are in the shelter’. And she was like “What do you mean? These aren’t Pit Bulls.” And I was like, “What do you mean they’re not Pit Bulls? Yes, they’re Pit Bulls.” And she said, “No, no, they’re Staffordshire Bull Terriers.” And I was like, “What?! Staffordshire Bull Terriers are Pit Bulls.”

A Staffordshire Bull Terrier sleeping on the couch
A Staffordshire Bull Terrier (Nieuwland Photography/Shutterstock)


So the next day we kind of both had thought about it a little bit, about that conversation, and approached each other with this idea that we should really look at this, at cross-cultural differences in what is considered a Pit Bull. And especially if something is being legislated against, you would think there would be a common definition, when lives are on the line especially right? That people would have an idea of what they’re talking about.

And so we did this survey, where we had photos of dogs that we had collected both from England and the United States. And we asked people first of all, just open-ended, describe what breed or breeds each dog represented. And then we asked this horrible open-ended question that was super-cruel to people, to say “Why do you think it’s this?” Which is really hard, you know. Like you see a picture of a Labrador and you say it’s a Labrador. Well why is it a Labrador? Because it looks like a Labrador, right? Like people had to think really hard, “What makes this look like a Labrador?” And so that open-ended qualitative information was really helpful and informative. So the people then went through the pictures a second time and we just asked them, “Is this a Pit Bull?” or “Do you think this is a Pit Bull type dog or not?”

And so we found that in the United States Pit bull is a much broader category; a lot more dogs fall into the category of Pit Bulls than is the case in England. But even so there’s a lot of diversity in the United States in terms of what’s considered a Pit Bull. So it’s not that everybody in the United States agrees that a particular dog is a Pit Bull, there’s still a lot of disagreement about whether a particular dog is a Pit Bull or not. Less so in England, and as you might have guessed from that initial conversation that I had with Carri, in the United States we tend to consider the Staffordshire Bull Terrier to be a Pit Bull, and in the UK they are distinct from Pit Bulls and not included in the Breed Specific Legislation in the UK.

Dr. Christy Hoffman with her dog Santiago
Dr. Christy Hoffman with her dog Santiago. Photo: Stephanie Handley.


And also for the study, we looked at the laws in various parts of the United States where there is Breed Specific Legislation, and I was thinking certainly they must be defining, again, Pit Bull in the community; even if it varies community to community they must have some definition, they must have some way to categorize or classify these dogs. But really the language in these laws tends to be written very loosely and there really weren’t clear-cut descriptions of what these communities mean by a Pit Bull. Which was pretty eye-opening and surprising to see.

Zazie: It is actually, yeah it is. So, right at the start of this interview you mentioned having done primate research in the past. How and why did you move from primates into working on dogs?

Christy: Yeah, so… I have to get this suitable for public audience! So I actually started studying non-human primates when I was in college. I studied howler - mantled howler - monkeys that are in Nicaragua after my sophomore year of college. And I knew that animal behaviour was something that was pretty cool to me when I could go to Nicaragua for a month and watch howler monkeys sleep in the tops of trees for hours on end and I still loved it. There were times when I didn’t know if I was watching a howler monkey or a termite mound, because they move about the same amount.

Zazie: Wow.

Christy: And I still thought it was super-cool. And so the next summer, before senior year of college, I was selected to be a research assistant in Puerto Rico on an island called Cayo Santiago where there are about 1200 rhesus macaques living on this island, free-roaming. So I was a research assistant on the island for the summer. And rhesus macaques are on the opposite end of the spectrum of active compared to howler monkeys, they’re all over the place. And so I really enjoyed that work and I took a year off after undergrad, but a few months of teaching ninth grade made me know I wanted to get back in to school as a student.

"There were times when I didn’t know if I was watching a howler monkey or a termite mound, because they move about the same amount."

So I applied to graduate school programs and was accepted into a program where the person who became my advisor was wanting to do more and more research on this island where I’d done the research in Puerto Rico before. And during my time in Puerto Rico both as an undergrad and grad student, I was fascinated and distressed by the number of stray dogs living in Puerto Rico. People forget I think that Puerto Rico is part of the United States but it’s so different also from, at least the parts of the United States that I’ve lived in. And so it was very eye-opening to me to see that people had very different relationships with dogs than again what I had experienced. And I, you know, wanted to save as many dogs as I could while I was there, so I would chase monkeys around during the day and then in the afternoon and evening try to help dogs in various ways, shuttle them to the vet clinic or administer some medications or organize a spay/neuter clinic, or find places in the United States to send these dogs. So I had first-hand experience of the transfer process!

But I also could see that for some people, like if you’re trying to run a restaurant and there are stray dogs milling about in front of your restaurant, it’s going to be hard to keep your client base. People don’t want to leave a restaurant and be mobbed by dogs that have sad-looking eyes and that are sick, or that are trying to jump on them and grab their leftovers.

A mantled howler monkey up a tree
(Photo: Wollertz/Shutterstock)


And so I became interested in human-animal interaction as a result of seeing all of this while I was in Puerto Rico. And as time wore on I became more and more interested in this, and the monkeys – I had to get my dissertation so I kept working with the monkeys, but in my mind in some ways they were taking a back seat to my  interest in the human-animal relationship and dog cognition as well. And so I was actually fortunate to have a post-doc where I could apply what I had learned about animal behaviour, in my case studying monkeys and hormones as well, and transition over to studying the human-dog relationship thanks to funding from the Waltham Foundation and the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development. So I was able to finally make that leap as a post-doc when I’d been kind of wanting to for years. And then a few years after that, I was able to take this job here at Canisius College where my work continues to look at both sides of the human-dog relationship, where I teach a canine class to undergraduate students but I also teach a class to graduate students called Psychology of the Human-Animal Bond and another class specifically on shelters. So it’s a dream realized to be able to do the research that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time and also to be surrounded by students who share those interests as well.

Zazie: That’s fantastic, and it’s a very highly-regarded program in Anthrozoology at Canisius as well isn’t it?! So why do you think Anthrozoology is such a popular and such an exciting field at the moment?

Christy: Yeah, well I think there are a lot of reasons. I think the rise of popularity of animal-assisted therapy has piqued a lot of people’s interest in wanting to know more about human-animal relationships. And also kind of the increase in prevalence of service dogs, emotional support animals as well, and learning more and more about the various jobs that dogs – and when I say dog I mean animal half the time – and other animals can do and ways they can help people. And then there’s also increasing concern for the welfare of animals that are used for human benefit, including lab dogs, farm animals, companion animals as well. And so that’s also an important focus of the Anthrozoology program here at Canisius. And we also extend out so they can learn about wildlife in our program as well, and human-wildlife conflict and also ways that humans might be able to help or benefit wildlife as well.

"We do some number games with him, and test out his olfactory abilities, and more often than not he cheats or thinks of problems in a way we hadn’t thought about them and demonstrates that we have to re-think our methods!"

And so our program really does look at human and non-human animal relationships from both perspectives, the human side and the non-human side. And we find that people are interested in all these aspects of animal welfare, and the benefits to humans that animals provide, and so with the changes to the climate and everything I think that’s also put human-animal interactions and relationships on people’s radar as well especially regarding human-wildlife conflict.

Zazie: And so we’re getting near to the end, so a slightly personal question but not too personal: Do you have any pets at home yourself?

Christy: Yes! I have two dogs that – I do want to defend myself and say that I have successfully fostered dogs before, so I’ve brought dogs into my home and they’ve been adopted into other homes. But the two dogs that I have are both foster failures. So Grizzly is about ten years old, everybody thinks she’s a boy but she’s a girl, so Rottweiler-Shepherd mix we think. And she’s our Steady Eddie, like she is an excellent dog, just don’t ask her to solve any cognition problems! She just walks into her crate when you try to ask her to do anything slightly challenging. And she would totally fail a detour task, but she’s excellent and really great with our 2-year-old human daughter. And then we have Santiago who is a Pit Bull mix. I actually snuck his photo into the Pit Bull study that we did years ago, to see what people thought about him. And so when people ask me what breed he is they really regret it, because I start sounding off, like “this percentage of people in England think he’s this… and people in the United States think he’s this…” But he’s great. He actually does like cognitive challenges so he comes with me to Canisius several times a year for my research methods class so that we can try to figure out what’s going on in his head and we do some number games with him, and test out his olfactory abilities, and more often than not he cheats or thinks of problems in a way we hadn’t thought about them and demonstrates that we have to re-think our methods! So I’ve got two dogs. And then we have a parakeet who we found as a stray a few years ago. So that’s our household.

Zazie: Brilliant! Thank you very much. Is there anything else that you would like to say?

Christy: Well, again thank you so much for all of your constant work. I see how often you’re posting to Companion Animal Psychology and sharing things on the Facebook page as well, and it’s such an important service. And like I said, especially for those papers that we publish that are behind a paywall, you do such a great job and you’re so responsible about the way you communicate the science. I really, really appreciate that because, as you know not everybody does report things responsibly or very accurately and so I appreciate that. I’ve been so excited to be able to talk to you actually, email’s fun but it’s nice to actually talk to you as well.

Zazie: I’ve been really excited because I really admire your research and also so much of it is so useful and relevant to people, as well as being interesting and fascinating and well-designed. So I’ve been really excited to talk to you and probably I could talk to you for hours, but that would be too much to go on the blog!

Thank you Dr. Christy Hoffman for taking the time to talk with me and for a fantastic interview!

About Dr. Christy Hoffman: Christy Hoffman is an assistant professor in the department of Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation and directs the Anthrozoology Master’s program at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY (USA). In addition, she runs the Canisius Canine Research Team, which can be followed on Facebook.



You can read about Dr. Hoffman’s research in the following posts:
Rivalry and decision-making in dogs
Finding out if dogs like cats – or not
Proof the internet helps cat adoptions
Large study finds no evidence for ‘black dog syndrome’
Is attachment to pet dogs linked to their behaviour?

Companion Animal Psychology is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Companion Animal Psychology Book Club June 2017

The book of the month is The Inner Life of Cats by Thomas McNamee.

A sweet cat rests her head on a book


The Companion Animal Psychology Book Club choice for June 2017 is The Inner Life of Cats: The Science and Secrets of Our Mysterious Feline Companions by Thomas McNamee.

From the inside cover,
"In The Inner Life of Cats, acclaimed nature writer Thomas McNamee helps us decipher the thoughts and motivations of these often inscrutable creatures, digging deep into emerging (and forgotten) research to reveal what might be driving our cats' actions. McNamee consults the experts, decodes cats' befuddling behaviour (why are they always drawn to the one 'non-cat' person in the room?), and celebrates the unsung heroes who are starting to give us glimpses into what drives our cats to do the things they do."
Are you reading alongside us? Please let me know what you think of the book in the comments.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Rivalry and Decision-Making in Dogs

The relationship between two household dogs affects their decisions, according to new research.

Two dogs sleeping on top of each other on a bed


If you have more than one dog, you might have noticed that if one goes over to sniff a particular spot, sometimes the other dog will also go over there. It’s called local enhancement, in which one dog (we call them the ‘demonstrator’) draws the other dog’s attention to a specific location. It’s a type of social learning that is found in many species.

Dr. Christy Hoffman and Dr. Malini Suchak (Canisius College) investigated whether local enhancement is affected by rivalry between dogs that live in the same household. The dogs were classed as either low- or high-rivalry based on their owners responses to questions on the C-BARQ.

The dog rivalry questions assessed how likely the dog is to be aggressive towards the other dog in the household, or to be aggressive when the other dog approaches when they are sleeping, eating, or playing with a toy.

After conducting two experiments, the scientists found that,
“When allowed to make a decision quickly, low-rivalry dogs were more heavily influenced by dog and human demonstrators than high-rivalry dogs, but this difference between high-rivalry and low-rivalry dogs disappeared when dogs were forced to wait 5 s before approaching the plates. Because the demonstrator and observer dogs lived together in the same household, the pre-existing social relationship between the dogs is particularly likely to have influenced how attentive they were to the dog demonstrator dog and, as a result, their performance on the task.”
Dogs from two-dog households were tested in their own home. Within a pair, the dogs did not necessarily have the same rating for rivalry (i.e. it could be two high, two low, or one high and one low-rivalry dog).

Fifty dogs took part in the first study. The experimental set-up involved two paper plates on the floor, to which a research assistant added some food. Under the watchful eye of one dog, the other dog (the ‘demonstrator’) was allowed to walk up to one of the plates, scoff the food, and was taken out of the room.

Then the dog was allowed to approach one of the plates. Would they go to the – now empty – plate the demonstrator dog had gone to, or would they go to the plate with the food on?

A Chihuahua and a Pomeranian in a wicker basket
Photo: Dima Zverev; top, Bill Anastasiou (both Shutterstock.com)


It’s worth noting first of all that the human holding the dog’s leash had their eyes closed and faced the other way so they would not see which plate the demonstrator dog went to (and so could not influence the dog).

And also – very importantly – whichever plate the dog chose to approach, the empty one or the one with food on, they were allowed to eat the food that was left.

The results showed there was an effect of rivalry. Dogs who scored low on rivalry were more likely to go to the empty plate than those who were rated as high-rivalry.

Interestingly, this was also the case in a human control condition, in which only one dog was in the room, and the human research assistant removed the food from one of the plates.

The scientists say,
“These results suggest that low-rivalry dogs, as compared to high-rivalry dogs, may be more susceptible to local enhancement and, therefore, more likely to copy other dogs’ and humans’ actions.”
However, when there was a 5 second delay before the dog could choose which plate to go to, then the low-rivalry dogs were also more likely to go to the plate with food on instead of the empty plate.

The delay condition always happened after the condition in which dogs could make an immediate choice. This meant it was possible, even though the dogs got the food anyway, they had learned to get the food faster.

So the scientists conducted a second experiment with a new set of 24 dogs. In this experiment there was always a 5-second delay before the dog could go to one of the plates.

This time, rivalry was not linked to any effects; both low- and high-rivalry dogs were more likely to go to the plate with food on. This suggests that it is in fact the delay that caused the local enhancement effect for low-rivalry dogs to disappear.

The researchers made a video about their research that explains what they found:




Of course, we cannot say what was going on inside the dogs’ heads when they took part. But it seems that for low-rivalry dogs, the lack of food on the plate did not affect their decision to go to that plate first. Perhaps for the high-rivalry dogs, because they were not as tolerant of the other dog, they did not pay as much attention to where it went.

One of the nice things about this study is that it looked at how dogs behaved in a situation with another dog they were very familiar with. The scientists say,
“understanding the nature of established dog–dog relationships needs more attention from researchers. This study constitutes a first step toward better understanding that dynamic.”
You can read my interview with Dr. Christy Hoffman about her research, foster failures, and what makes Anthrozoology so exciting. You can also follow the Canisius Canine Research Team on Facebook.

P.S. Please check out our beautiful t-shirts that raise funds for my local branch of the BCSPCA.

Reference
Hoffman, C. L., & Suchak, M. (2017). Dog rivalry impacts following behavior in a decision-making task involving food. Animal Cognition, 1-13.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Invitation to the 2017 Train for Rewards Blog Party

Join pet bloggers and dog trainers in supporting reward-based training. #Train4Rewards
A cute little dog in a party hat


Are you a blogger? Do you support reward-based training for dogs and other animals? Would you like to take part in the #Train4Rewards blog party?

You are invited to write a blog post about reward-based training of dogs or other companion animals, post it on your own blog on the set date, then come and share a link to it here. Bloggers from anywhere in the world are invited to take part.

Last year, posts covered training of dogs, cats and horses. As well as spreading the word about reward-based training, you will find new people to follow (and pick up new followers in turn).

Read on to find out more.


On Wednesday 14th or Thursday 15th June:


1. Publish a post on your blog in support of the #Train4Rewards blog party. It can be words, photos, video, a podcast, or a combination, and relate to any kind of companion animal.  I’ve put some suggestions below to get you started.

Double-check your post to make sure the tone is friendly and supportive to people who might not know anything about positive reinforcement training – we want to be encouraging and upbeat.

2. Include the #Train4Rewards button in your post, using the code displayed next to it. (See below for more info).



3. Add your blog to the list on companionanimalpsychology.com. The list will be open from 5am PST on 14th June until 8am PST on 16th June. Don’t miss the deadline!


On Friday 16th June:


1. Check out the full list of participating blogs on companionanimalpsychology.com. Visit the other blogs, and leave comments to show support for your fellow bloggers.

2. Share your blog post on social media using the hashtag #Train4Rewards.

3. Share your favourite posts from other participating blogs on social media, also using the hashtag #Train4Rewards. You don’t have to share all the posts (unless you want to), so pick the ones you like best and share those. You can spread this out throughout the day.

4. Feel proud of your contribution to improving animal welfare. Reward yourself with a piece of cake, a bunch of flowers, a walk in the woods, or whatever makes you happy.


Ideas for posts


Blog posts can be about any aspect of reward-based training and can use text, photo or video, so feel free to use your imagination.

Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • What you enjoy about training using positive reinforcement
  • How to use positive reinforcement to teach a behaviour or solve a behaviour problem
  • A video of your dog, cat, rabbit, rat or ferret doing tricks
  • How to train your cat or rabbit to go into a carrier
  • The key thing that made you become a crossover trainer
  • Photos of dogs (or other animals) enjoying a training session
  • The best treats to use as rewards
  • Recipes for training treats
  • An ode to your bait pouch, written by your dog
  • Why you love your dog trainer
  • An interview with someone about why they use reward-based training


How to get the most out of the blog party


1. Bring your best post. It’s like wearing your favourite dress to a party. The people who got the most out of last year’s blog party wrote new posts. If you prefer to use an older post, you should at least try to update it. People are more likely to share new content.

2. Take time to edit. It’s generally best if you can set aside the first draft of your post for a day or two, and then come back to edit. Re-writing is always an important part of the writing process.

3. Use a great photo. When you add your post to the list here, you will get the chance to choose the photo that will appear as your thumbnail. Everyone will have the Train for Rewards button, so if you have your own photo it will make yours stand out. Also, photos really help with sharing on social media. You can use your own photo, find one that is available for free use or pay for a stock photo (just make sure you’re following copyright rules). If your post is a video, you might like to include a still from the video as a photo in your post.


The rules


What is allowed: anything that celebrates the reward-based training of companion animals.

What is not allowed: training that uses pain, including but not limited to choke and prong collars, electronic shock collars, alpha rolls, or other aversive techniques; spam and blog posts of a commercial nature.

I reserve the right to remove posts if they are inappropriate and/or not within the spirit of the blog party. Please keep posts family-friendly. No discussions will be entered into.

If you want, you can let me know that you are planning to take part. I look forward to reading your posts!


Technical details of adding the button: 


The button is shown above.

Copy the code that is displayed next to the button. Put the code in the html part of your page.

In blogger, click the html button on the top left; in wordpress, the html button is on the top right.

Position the code where you would like the button to appear e.g. if you want it at the bottom of the page, put it underneath all the other html code; if you want it at the top, put it at the top.

If you want to centre it, put <center> at the beginning of the code, and </center> after it.

When you go back to your compose field, you will see the button in your post.

In Squarespace, add a content block, scroll down to "More" and then click "Code".  Copy and paste the button code into the text editor that pops up.  The content block can then be moved around like any other content block.

If you choose to also include a text link, please make sure it is a nofollow link (so as not to upset Google).

If you prefer to 'do-it-yourself', save the image of the blog button below (right click the image and save to your computer), put it where you would like to see it in your blog post, and then make it link to the blog party page. (Again, please make it a nofollow link).




Technical details of adding the link:


You can add the link to your blog post to the blog party page during the stated times.

You need to post the specific permalink to your blog post, not the main url of your blog. If you have pictures in your post, you will have a choice of thumbnails.

If you make a mistake or want to choose a different thumbnail, you can delete it and start again, any time up to the deadline.

You will be asked to provide your email address. This will only be used to communicate with you (if necessary) about the Train for Rewards blog party. You will not be added to any mailing lists. If you want to subscribe to Companion Animal Psychology by email, you can do so here. You can also read our privacy policy

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Companion Animal Psychology News May 2017

This month's news and favourite stories from around the web.

A dog and cat peruse the latest news about pets


Some of my favourites from around the web this month…


An anonymous article from the owner of a reactive dog that resonated with many people. "It is painful for me to have to portray my dog as some kind of devil dog to you to get my point across. He really is not; he is funny, intelligent, and the most loving dog I know."

A thoughtful post from Ken Ramirez on the use of clickers in dog training. "The best trainers will keep asking questions to better understand the techniques we use and to understand the science underlying each procedure."

Ouch! Acquired bite inhibition and puppies by Kristi Benson at the Academy for Dog Trainers. "Luckily, most dogs have good—or at least good enough—ABI. However, dog trainers and veterinarians do occasionally get a call about a dog with poor ABI, and it is always heartbreaking."

Why do dogs like to roll in smelly things? By Mary Jo Dilonardo, with interestingly-different opinions from Dr. Stanley Coren, Dr. Patricia McConnell, Dr. Alexandra Horowitz, and Dr. Marty Becker.

Puppy play: why it matters by Sylvie Martin at Crosspaws. "They throw themselves on top of one another and on the floor, they paddle and punch with their paws, they hang off each other’s ears with their teeth, they chase and invite being chased, they bow, bowl and bounce all over the place. In short, they seem to be having a ball."

Dr. Anne Fawcett on re-directed aggression in cats. "Last night I was the victim of an attack, from a household member." 

Why do most animal shelter workers burn out? By Dr. Hal Herzog. "Like other people who are “called” to a career, all the shelter workers in the study entered the field with a sense of deep moral, social, and personal commitment. But caring for animals can have its costs."


Pets in the news


Dubai goes to the dogs. Expats abandoning pets when they finish work placements.

Researchers at the University of Liverpool looked at whether feeding a raw diet to dogs poses a risk to human health. “t was found that dogs fed diets containing raw-meat were more likely to carry Salmonella species and antibiotic resistant E. coli compared to the control group (cooked diets), including E. coli resistant to multiple types of antibiotics”

How this teen and his dog in Nova Scotia saved the life of an 89 year old man.

Why the cats on one British island have lost their tails on Manx cats. See also International Cat Care on Manx cats and the problems this genetic defect causes.

Giving a speech can by terrifying, but these dogs are here to help… Karin Brulliard on the “audience dogs” at the Kogod School of Business.

Could Omar be the world’s longest cat?

The mystery of the wasting house-cats on the rise of feline hyperthyroidism.


Upcoming Events


But my dog isn’t food motivated. PPG webinar by Kathy Sdao Wednesday June 28th 2017.

Feline foraging toys: How to implement, motivate, and stage the difficulty level by Ingrid Johnson for Pet Professional Guild. Weds 26th July 4pm EDT.


Photos, Videos and Podcasts


Dr. Susan Hazel on canine behaviour. “In general, we’re not good at reading dog, but dogs are geniuses at reading us.”

In this short clip from a new BBC series, Dr. Carri Westgarth explains the signs to look for that mean a dog is anxious.

Why humans have pets and chimps don’t. Fascinating talk by Dr. Hal Herzog


Here at Companion Animal Psychology


This month saw the launch of the Companion Animal Psychology t-shirt. Wearable art for animal lovers, it is available in various colours and styles. 100% of the proceeds go to the BC SPCA Maple Ridge.

The cat loves dog t-shirt is available in pink and other colours


This is a cause that means a lot to me, and I thank you for your support. Let me know which colour you pick!

The t-shirt shown above is the Gildan women's relaxed tee in pale pink.




The month’s book for the Companion Animal Psychology Book Club is Dog Sense: How the New Science of Dog Behavior Can Make You A Better Friend to Your Pet by John Bradshaw (titled in Defence of Dogs in the UK and Australia).

This month saw a thoughtful guest post from Kristi Benson on the ways dogs are like us and not like us. Thank you, Kristi!

My post on a new study that found people mistakenly think anxious dogs are relaxed in interactions with babies hit a nerve and is already my second-most popular post of all time. I also wrote about the potential causes of problems in pet store puppies.

I’m taking a week off blogging to catch up on other things. See you soon!

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Companion Animal Psychology Tee Raises Funds for Charity

Wearable artwork. All proceeds to the BC SPCA Maple Ridge.


The print shows a cat greeting a dog; 100% proceeds to charity


I am very excited to launch the Companion Animal Psychology t-shirt today. Isn’t the design gorgeous?!

100% of the proceeds will go to the BC SPCA Maple Ridge. This is the shelter where I have been a regular volunteer for the last 5 years. The funds raised will make a tremendous difference to the dogs, cats and small animals.

100% proceeds to the BC SPCA Maple Ridge

Jennifer Stack, shelter manager, says “Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and possibly purchasing a print to help support the animals at the Maple Ridge BC SPCA.

“Our shelter has seen a real change in what animals come into the shelter. Years ago there were lots of puppies and kittens pushing us past capacity and having to develop and rely on a solid foster program for the overflow of these young animals. Through working with veterinarians with education on spaying and neutering pets before 6 months, as well as working with the municipalities to develop programs and solidify grants for low cost spay and neuter programs, and through education and financial programs we have seen that the sheer numbers of puppies and kittens has diminished significantly.

“What we are seeing now, is a lot of middle-aged animals that have chronic conditions such as skin issues, or re occurring ear infections, urinary issues and such. Where owners are frustrated and no longer feel they can go on dealing with this, or are not able to financially. Another common one is major dental disease in both cats and dogs. The owners are not able to afford the fees for the required dental care and therefore surrender the animal.

“Due to these cases where there is major dental work or a lot of diagnostic work-up to identify the problem and then do treatment our medical costs are sky high. The proceeds from your purchase will help our animals in need.

“On behalf on the animals, volunteers, and staff, we thank you ever so much. Every dollar helps and we are so very grateful for your generosity.”

The beautiful artwork is by Lili Chin and is loosely based on two of my own animals that I adopted from the shelter.

The t-shirt is available in round-neck and v-neck in both women’s and men’s styles, and a range of colours. The hoodie comes as a pullover style or as a zip hoodie with a back print.

Thank you for your purchase, and please share with your friends too.
Companion Animal Psychology is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com and Amazon.ca. (privacy policy)