All About Dogs

Are you a dog person? Here is lots of useful science-based information about how to care for your dog or puppy.

A happy mixed-breed dog rolling in a flower meadow


Companion Animal Psychology blog brings you the latest science about dogs and their relationship with their people, and evidence-based information about dog training, enrichment, and how to entertain your dog.

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Essential Guides for Dog Owners


How to choose the right puppy in four easy steps. The questions to ask to help you make a good choice of breed and where to get your puppy from.

Why do people choose certain dogs? The reasons people give for the dogs they pick.

How to choose a dog trainer – how to choose the right dog trainer for you and your dog.

The ultimate dog training tip. The one thing every dog owner should know about dog training. (Hint: use food!).

What is positive reinforcement in dog training? – a user-friendly guide to everything you need to know about positive reinforcement in dog training.

"Dominance" training deprives dogs of positive experiences. Dominance is an out-dated approach to dog training - and it also means dogs miss out on fun. Find out why, here.

Seven reasons to use reward-based dog training summarizes the advantages to using modern, scientific methods in dog training, including links to position statements from welfare organizations. If you're more interested in the research itself, a new literature review recommends reward-based training.



Behaviour Problems


Fear of loud noises – a common problem in domestic dogs? looks at the prevalence of fears of thunder and fireworks.

Dangerous dogs – time for a rethink? Aggression in one situation does not necessarily carry over to other contexts.

Testing an automated and humane way to resolve barking. A scientific study tests the use of an automatic treat dispenser.


A happy mixed-breed puppy sits in the grass on a sunny day
Photo: Chonlawut (Shutterstock.com)



Body Language


Understanding dogs with iSpeakDog - Although most people think they know dogs, research shows most of us are not very good at recognizing fear and anxiety. Why it matters that we learn to understand canine body language, and a fabulous new resource to help.



Canine Science


We need canine science because common sense can lead us astray. Canine science is better than common sense.

Science – and science blogging – can help animal welfare in important ways. Why science matters to our dogs and cats

6 reasons to love canine science. Some of the cool things science has taught us about dogs.

How many dogs is enough for canine science? “If we want to be able to say something about dogs in general, then all kinds of dogs need to take part in research.”

Do you ever wonder how dogs are rewarded for taking part in canine research? Will work for hot dog

What can dog owners learn from the way scientists give animals choices in research? The right to walk away.



Dogs’ Abilities


fMRI research on dog’s brains shows their people are of special importance to them. How does  a dog’s brain respond to the smell of a familiar human?

Can dogs smell quantity of food? We all know dogs have amazing noses, but can they smell the difference between a plate with just a little hot dog and another plate with more?

Most people think their dog is about as clever as a 3 – 5 year old human child. How clever do you think your dog is?

Would your dog prefer a piece of cheese, or a piece of cheese and a piece of carrot? The answer may surprise you. Sub-optimal choice in dogs

Do dogs try to hide theft of food? Two studies investigate whether dogs can take a human's perspective when deciding whether or not to steal food.

Diabetes alert dogs can make a big difference to their owners. Dogs can alert their owners with 'brittle' type 1 diabetes to let them know when they are about to have an attack of low blood sugar. This article looks at research on the amazing success of the program.


A beautiful white dog sniffing the air in the garden




Dogs at the Vet


30% of dogs are highly stressed in the waiting room, but many owners don’t know if their dog is stressed or not. Canine stress in the vet’s waiting room.

Dogs don’t have to be stressed at the veterinarian. Essential tips for better vet visits. Lots of tips to help you prepare your dog for trips to the vet (and some nice tips for cats too, if you're a cat owner as well).

Treats at the vet mean fewer bites and a less fearful pet. Should vets give treats to pets?

The surprising history of veterinary medicine for dogs and cats.

Vets sometimes miss opportunities to discuss canine behaviour, even when they notice problems. Discussion of dogs’ behavioural problems at the vet.



Dog Training


Dogs like to work for rewards. Make your dog happy: Train force free.

Research shows positive reinforcement is good for animal welfare and the human-canine bond. Dog-training, animal welfare and the human-canine relationship.

Where do people get information about dog training?

In dog training, balance is off. It's not a good thing when dog trainers describe themselves as 'balanced'. This article explains why.

The importance of food in dog training. What science tells us about the effectiveness of food as a motivator for dogs.

Research shows electronic collars can have a negative impact on welfare. Is it the end for shock collars?

Positive reinforcement and dog training. A user-friendly guide to everything you need to know about using positive reinforcement to train your dog.

Positive reinforcement and dog training for dogs with behaviour problems.

Dog training is unlicensed, and some trainers are not clear in how they explain what they do. Describing dog training: weasel words or clear descriptions?

Playtime after training improves a dog's memory. Research into whether a play session after training helps to improve dogs' learning.

Timing and attention matter in dog training. Analysis of videos of training sessions show that being able to get the dog's attention, and getting the timing of rewards right, make a difference to success.


Enrichment and Entertainment for Your Dog


You know that feeling when you successfully solve a problem? Dogs get that Eureka feeling too

Lots of ideas for fun activities with your dog in Make your dog happy: enrichment.

When walks are limited, six ways to entertain your dog indoors

If you lead a Lab to water, should you let them swim? Labrador Retrievers and what their choices reveal about love of water.

Why do people take part in dog sports? It’s a combination of different types of motivation.



Positive Stories About Dogs


Pets help build communities one friend at a time.

Do dogs prefer petting or praise? It turns out they can’t get enough of petting, but praise is pretty meaningless.

Listening to audiobooks can help dogs waiting for adoption.

Great photos are important to dog adoption, but dogs seen in videos are rated more positively than if seen in photos. Useful information for shelters and rescues to help promote their dogs.

A survey of Labrador Retriever owners tells us what they eat, how often they exercise, and where they sleep. The Labrador lifestyle.

Why are some breeds of dog more popular than others?



Preventing dog bites


Education on dog bites needs to get past the belief that ‘it won’t happen to me’. A new approach to dog bite prevention and an interview with Dr. Carri Westgarth.

Preventing dog bites in children.

Can fatal dog attacks be prevented? Although such attacks are very rare, a sobering report shows they typically have multiple – potentially preventable – factors.

Preventing dog bites in children – an evaluation of the Blue Dog Project’s influence on parents.



Puppies


Are you getting a new family member? How to choose the right puppy in 4 easy steps.

Going to puppy class could be the best investment you make in your dog. Make your dog happy: Puppy Class!

Behaviour problems in puppies from pet stores.

Socialization is so important, but what’s the science behind it? Why you need to socialize your puppy.

It seems that different dog breeds may have a slightly different sensitive period for socialization.

Some dog breeds have welfare problems, but when choosing a puppy, people don't always take this account. In fact, some breeds seem almost irresistible and emotions get in the way.



Walking and Exercise


Why do some people not walk their dogs?  and what encourages people to walk their dog?

Should you take your dog to the dog park?


Working Dogs


How can we improve working dog programs? and an interview with Mia Cobb.



Other Canine Topics


Are deaf dogs and blind dogs just like other dogs?

Learning more about the canine victims of animal abuse.

The Five Domains model aims to help animals thrive. An updated model of animal welfare includes positive experiences for our pets.


For more stories like this, subscribe to Companion Animal Psychology.


Photo: Dora Zett (top) and Cryber (dog sniffing) (both Shutterstock.com)

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