Showing posts from August, 2013

Is Income (In)Equality Linked to Animal Welfare?

Are societies that are more equal for people also better for animal welfare? By Zazie Todd, PhD Many of the organizations that look after homeless companion animals also advocate for other kinds of animals, including farm animals, wildlife, and animals used in experiments. Earlier research has suggested that, at an individual level, there could be a link between how people treat animals and how they treat people. A new paper by Michael Morris (University of Canterbury, New Zealand) investigates whether or not this is also the case at a societal level; in other words, if societies that are more equal for people are also better for animal welfare. The idea came from something called the Environmental Kuznets Curve, “the hypothesis that as the per capita income for countries improves, their effect on the environment initially increases as polluting industries grow, but then it starts to decline again after a threshold of income is reached.” For example, technology may improve

Summer Vacation

Photo: Silvia B. Jakiello/Shutterstock By Zazie Todd, PhD Companion Animal Psychology Blog is on summer vacation. If you want to catch up on some reading, our most popular posts so far this year include: Are young children more interested in animals than toys? The end for shock collars? Will grey parrots share? Do dogs try to hide theft of food? How do hand-reared wolves and dogs interact with humans? Why do people surrender dogs to animal shelters? If you have any special requests for future posts, please leave a comment below. In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your summer!  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 M

Is Food or Affection Better as a Reward in Horse Training?

In horse training, food is a more effective reward than grooming. Photo: Ellen Beijers/Shutterstock By Zazie Todd, PhD Several recent studies have found that food is a better reward than petting or praise when training dogs. But what about horses? A new study led by Carol Sankey at the University of Rennes 1 in France investigates whether food is also the way to a horse’s heart. Twenty horses took part in the study. They were Konik horses, a primitive breed in Poland (pictured). Twelve of the horses were raised in typical domestic conditions, while the remaining eight were raised in a forest reserve in semi-natural conditions. At the time of the study, all of the horses were between 1 and 2 years old, and live in stables.  The horses were taught a ‘stay’ command starting at 5s and increasing gradually up to 60s if they progressed that far. Training took place for 5 minutes a day over a six-day period, and was conducted in the middle of the stables. Loudspeakers playin