Puppies Raised in a Home are Better Prepared for Life as a Pet

The environment in which puppies are raised makes a difference to their behaviour, new study shows.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

Anyone getting a puppy is urged to check carefully where they come from. Puppies have a sensitive period for socialization during which a wide range of positive experiences help to set them up for later life. Since puppies begin the sensitive period at 3 weeks, but typically go home at 8 weeks, the breeder is responsible for the early stages of socialization. New research in press in Applied Animal Behaviour Science looks at the effects of raising puppies in the house compared to in an outdoor kennel.

The results show that puppies raised in a house are more self-confident and less likely to show aggression due to fear. In short, they are likely to make better pets and be friendlier dogs.

The scientists say this is because puppies raised in the home experience more socialization with people and are habituated to a greater number of noises, household objects, and other e…

Animal Book Club December 2019

"The astonishing true story of one of the first wolves to roam Yellowstone in more than 60 years."

By Zazie Todd, PhD

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In December, the Animal Book Club is reading The Rise of Wolf 8: Witnessing the Triumph of Yellowstone's Underdog by Rick McIntyre with a foreword by Robert Redford.

From the book's description,
"Yellowstone National Park was once home to an abundance of wild wolves―but park rangers killed the last of their kind in the 1920s. Decades later, the rangers brought them back, with the first wolves arriving from Canada in 1995.  This is the incredible true story of one of those wolves.  Wolf 8 struggles at first―he is smaller than the other pups, and often bullied―but soon he bonds with an alpha female whose mate was shot. An unusually young alpha male, barely a teenager in human years, Wolf 8 rises to the occasion, hunting skillfully, and even defending his family from the wolf who killed his father. But soon he face…

Fellow Creatures, Plus T-Shirts on Sale

I have a new post on small animal blood donation over at my Psychology Today blog, Fellow Creatures.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

Did you know that dogs and cats can donate blood to help other pets in need? It turns out that most pet owners don't - but once they know, most would be willing for their pet to be a blood donor.

Dogs and cats can donate blood (but most people don't know) looks at some new research on what people know about pet blood banks, and the motivations they give for being willing to let their pet donate blood.

The post also includes information about what to do if you would like your pet to become a blood donor.

T-Shirts on Sale The Trust Kindness and  Cookies t-shirt celebrates all that we love about reward-based dog training: Trust in science, the kindness of reward-based methods, and cookies as positive reinforcement, all coming together in a wonderful package.

This t-shirt, and Companion Animal Psychology logo tees, are  on sale! Get 10% off all t-shirts, hoodies a…

Three Years of the Animal Book Club

If you’re looking for some great reading about animals, look no further than the Animal Book Club.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

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The Animal Book Club is three years old this month, which means we’re on book number 31: Beyond the Brain: How Body and Environment Shape Animal and Human Minds by Louise Barrett.

We’ve read some great books over the last year, from Our Dogs, Ourselves: The Story of a Singular Bond by Alexandra Horowitz to What the Dog Knows: Scent, Science, and the Amazing Ways Dogs Perceive the World by Cat Warren, Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet by John Bradshaw and The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter Than You Think by Brian Hare. (for a full list, see the animal book club page).

This past year I’ve also been honoured to interview some amazing authors about their books:
Dr. Alexandra Horowitz (Our Dogs, Ourselves)  Dr. Mark Goldstein (Lions, Tigers, and Hamsters)  Cat Warren (What the Dog Knows)

Hiding Places for Your Cat

The best ways to provide cats with safe spaces in the home, from cat caves to cat trees and DIY options.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

Everyone wants a happy cat, but cats like their environment to be set up right for them. One of the biggest welfare issues affecting pet cats is social behaviour issues due to a poor home environment. The five pillars of a healthy feline environment provide guidelines on what cats need, and one of those pillars is a safe space.

When cats are faced with something stressful, they like to hide in order to avoid confrontation. Providing safe spaces gives them somewhere to go and relax when everything is fine, and somewhere to hide if they are feeling stressed.

From a cat’s perspective, the best hiding places are the right size for them and enclosed. Cats also like to be high up and have nice places to perch where they can see what’s going on. In a multi-cat home, cats that are friends may choose to cuddle up in the same safe spaces, but cats should always have access …

Companion Animal Psychology News November 2019

The placebo effect in pets, the meaning of discipline, and stunning wildlife photos... this month's Companion Animal Psychology News.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

My favourites this monthJulie Hecht is an outstanding blogger who writes about the stuff dogs really want you to know about, like urine and humping and farts and a life worth living. As she bows out from her Scientific American blog Dogpies, don’t miss her final post, Dog science is timeless, and all the great posts it links to  And be sure to follow her on social media to keep up with what she does next.

"That leads me to wonder: why, despite increasing evidence, do some people deny that animals have emotions or feel pain?... I think it’s because it’s easier to hurt them if you think of them as dumb brutes. " Great interview with Carl Safina by Claudia Dreifus: Carl Safina is certain your dog loves you.

Indoor-only or outdoor access? A detailed, evidence-based consideration of the advantages and disadvantages of allowing …

Fellow Creatures: The Life Stages of Dogs

I have a new post over at my Psychology Today blog, Fellow Creatures. It looks at the life stages of dogs, from puppies to seniors, and what we know about dog behaviour during these different periods.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

The 2019 American Animal Hospital Association Canine Life Stage Guidelines divide the dog's lifespan into four stages.  My post focuses on the behavioural aspects of each stage. As well, there are new guidelines from AAHA on the age at which dogs should be spayed/neutered, depending on their size. Learn more in the life stages of dogs.

Zazie Todd, PhD, is the author of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy. She is the founder of the popular blog Companion Animal Psychology, where she writes about everything from training methods to the human-canine relationship. She also writes a column for Psychology Today and has received the prestigious Captain Haggerty Award for Best Training Article in 2017. Todd lives in Maple Ridge, BC, with her husband, one dog, and two …