Showing posts from June, 2017

Did We Evolve to Love Dogs?

Is part of the reason dogs manage to wrap their paws around our hearts because we're predisposed to love them?

Guest post by Kristi Benson CTC
Special Correspondent

Biophilia means, simply put, a focus on life and living things. Some researchers would even say it’s a love of living things. It has been used to refer to a tendency in people to seek relationships with the natural world: our love of greenspace, of potted plants, of well-tended trees on city boulevards, and maybe even (did you guess where this was going?), our love of animals, wild and domestic alike.

Considering you are reading a blog dedicated to spreading welfare-boosting, scientifically valid information about companion animals, it will not come as a surprise to you that many people find animals to be irresistibly compelling. Naturalist E.O Wilson suggests that this biophilia, this love of living things, has evolutionary roots in humans. That is, he suggests that our long-ago ancestors who loved living things—or at …

Companion Animal Psychology News June 2017

Favourite posts, photos and podcasts of the last month.

By Zazie Todd, PhD
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. Be sure to also read the comment from Dr. Chiara Mariti, and this piece by Marc Bekoff  PhD that has been updated to include Dr. Mariti's comments.

"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 Ho…

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.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

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 tha…

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.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

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 #Train4RewardsIf you train your dog, cat, ferret, rabbit, horse, pig, etc. with rewards, share a photo of your pet on social media with the hashtag #Train4RewardsAfterwards, reward yourself for participating with a piece of cake, some chocolate, a glass of wine, a walk…

Spreading the Word on Reward-Based Training

Sometimes, we all need a little encouragement. And that includes our pets when we're training them.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

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. (For ideas, see the best dog training treats).

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 regular…

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.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

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 r…

Companion Animal Psychology Book Club June 2017

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

By Zazie Todd, PhD

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.

Zazie Todd, PhD, is the author of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy. She is the fou…