Showing posts from 2013

The Posts of the Year 2013

Photo: Mila Atkovska / Shutterstock By Zazie Todd, PhD A big thank you to all of our readers! We wish you a very happy and healthy 2014!! The most popular posts of the year were: 1. Are Young Children More Interested in Animals Than Toys? A set of three studies by Vanessa LoBue et al looked at young children in a naturalistic play environment in which they could choose to interact with animals or toys. 2. The End for Shock Collars? Research funded by Defra in the UK found that electronic collars do not work better than positive reinforcement training for recall and chasing, and have negative welfare consequences for some dogs, even when used by qualified trainers. In addition, "some end-users either fail to read the instructions, misunderstand or deliberately disregard the advice in the manuals." 3.  How Do Hand-Reared Wolves and Dogs Interact with Humans? The question of how dogs evolved from wolves is complicated, but it is clear there

Season's Greetings

Photo: Eric Isselee / Shutterstock Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year  from  Companion Animal Psychology Blog! By Zazie Todd, PhD 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 and two cats. Useful links: Check out what the Animal Book Club is reading this month Get Companion Animal Psychology merch    Support me on Ko-fi Visit my Amazon store This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. As an Etsy affiliate, I earn from qualifying Etsy purchases.

Can Fatal Dog Attacks Be Prevented?

A sobering new report shows such tragic attacks are a multi-factorial problem. Dogs should be part of family life. Photo: V.J. Matthew / Shutterstock By Zazie Todd, PhD Cases of humans being killed by dogs are investigated in a new paper by lead author Gary Patronek (Center for Animals and Public Policy, Tufts University).The scientists analyzed dog bite fatalities in the United States from 2000 to 2009, and discovered there are usually multiple contributing factors, many of them preventable. During this time, there was an average of 25.6 dog bite fatalities per year, equivalent to 0.087 fatal bites per one million people per year. To put this in context, it is much less than the risk of being struck by lightning in the United States, which is estimated at 1 in 775,000 people per year .     Previous research has relied on media reports, which may not be entirely accurate or provide the full story. In this study, although the scientists used the media to help identif

Should You Take Your Dog to the Dog Park?

Dogs are social creatures, but while some dogs clearly love to visit dog parks, others seem less happy about it. New research investigates whether the dog park is stressful, and what dogs do there. Photo: Gerald Marella / Shutterstock By Zazie Todd, PhD Dog parks are open spaces, usually fenced, where dogs can be off-leash. They are particularly useful in municipalities where leash laws mean there are few spaces for dogs to run free. Researchers at the Memorial University of Newfoundland (Ottenheimer Carrier et al) set out to find out how dogs find the dog park. They recruited owners at a dog park and asked if their dogs could take part.    Eleven dogs took part in the first study, in which saliva samples were collected before and after a walk, before arrival at the dog park, and after being in the dog park for about twenty minutes. Because some samples did not get enough saliva, full results were available for six dogs. The results showed that salivary cortisol levels

Do Dogs Or Hand-Reared Wolves Pay More Attention to People?

What does a study of attention tell us about the domestication of dogs? By Zazie Todd, PhD Theories about the domestication of dogs often say they have evolved to pay more attention to humans than their wolf forebears. But the experimental evidence tends to only look at dogs. A new study by Friederike Range (University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna) and Szófia Virányi (Wolf Science Centre) compares the abilities of dogs and hand-reared wolves to utilize observations of human or dog behaviour to find food. Photo: Holly Kuchera / Shutterstock Eleven wolves and fourteen dogs took part in the study. They were hand-reared in similar conditions, and all were taught basic obedience such as sit, down, and how to walk on a leash. They were tested at 4, 5 and 7 months of age. The study took place in a meadow. A dead chick was used as food in the experiment.   Each wolf or dog was held on a short leash while a demonstrator (human or canine) put the chick in one of three locations

Can Dogs Eavesdrop?

Do dogs prefer nice people? Researchers look at whether dogs notice who is 'nice' and 'not nice', and how they respond. Photo: Sophie Louise Davis / Shutterstock By Zazie Todd, PhD Several studies suggest that dogs pay attention when humans are nice to someone, and preferentially approach the ‘nice’ rather than ‘not nice’ person. A new study by Esteban Freidin et al investigates dogs’ eavesdropping abilities in the search for further evidence on this ability. Studies of canine eavesdropping typically involve a scenario in which two people have food and another person, playing the role of ‘beggar’, approaches to ask for some. One person gives food to the beggar, while the other refuses. After observing this, dogs are released to see which person they will approach first. In a study by Sarah Marshall-Pescini et al (2011), dogs that observed generous versus selfish donors later chose to approach the generous person. This preference was strongest when both do