Showing posts from July, 2017

The Sensitive Period for Socialization in Puppies and Kittens

Important building blocks for a behaviourally-healthy cat or dog.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

The sensitive period for socialization is a very important time in the lives of kittens and puppies. This is when their brains are especially receptive to learning about the kind of social world they will live in as they get older.

For both kittens and puppies, the sensitive period for socialization is a time when they need lots of positive experiences with all kinds of people and other animals. During this time they will also habituate to anything they might meet in later life (different sounds, surfaces, etc). If they are well socialized during the sensitive period, they are likely to develop into friendly, confident adult dogs and cats.

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Sometimes people aren’t sure how to do socialization, so it’s important to note these should be positive experiences. You can use food to help make positive associations, and insofar as possible give the puppy or kitten a choice. Fo…

Companion Animal Psychology News July 2017

July’s round-up of the latest news on cats and dogs.

By Zazie Todd, PhD
Some of my favourites from around the web 
Dr. Rebecca Ledger uses the Five Domains model for forensic animal behaviour analysis by Kat Littlewood and David Mellor PhD. How the mental experiences of animals can be inferred for animal cruelty prosecutions in Canada.

Remember to play. Trumping animals and their homes: Seeing light in dark times by Marc Bekoff PhD. Some advice on how to maintain hope in the face of depressing news.

What determines a cat’s coat? Brandon Baker speaks to Dr. Margret Casal, associate professor of medical genetics, to find out. An intriguing introduction to the genetics of coat colours.

“What about dogs who are scared of toys that make noise or big/novel objects?” Enrichment for fearful dogs by Erica Beckwith CTC.

Never force your cat when training. Pam Johnson Bennett on ways you can offer your cat choice.

Why kids with pets are better off by Hal Herzog PhD looks at the results of a study of t…

What Your Cat's Nose Knows

There’s a lot more to your cat’s nose than you think. The importance of pheromones and scent for cats and kittens - and the implications for cat owners.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

Do you ever pay much attention to that cute little nose your cat has? We’re used to thinking of dogs as being all about smells – but it turns out cats are very much into scent too. A literature review by Kristyn Vitale Shreve and Monique Udell (Oregon State University) explains what we know about the importance of olfaction and chemical detection to cats, from what it means for indoor cats to the possibility of trained scent detection cats.

Vitale Shreve and Udell say,
“Importantly, a better understanding of cat chemical signals has critical applied implications, as scent (and marking) plays an important role in many species-typical cat behaviors, problem behaviors, and can also serve as enrichment if properly understood and applied.” 
Ultimately, if cat owners have a better understanding of the role of scent in thei…

Rewards, Welfare and the Animal's Perspective in Training

Taking the animal’s perspective, and other highlights from the Train for Rewards blog party.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

Recently, 28 other blogs joined me in the Train for Rewards blog party to celebrate what we can do with reward-based training of our companion animals, and to encourage people to give it a try.

There were some truly brilliant posts. Thank you to everyone who took part and helped to make it such a success for the second year in a row.

It’s no surprise that most posts were about dog training, but cat training and the training of a pet pig also featured this year. And there were some common themes.

Animal welfare
The benefits to animal welfare when we use reward-based training methods instead of aversive techniques was a common theme.

Changes in how we think about animal welfare – to include positive experiences instead of just trying to reduce the bad – have implications for how we train animals, Kat Littlewood writes.

She says, “positive reinforcement is a ‘modern’ approach to…

Happy Canada Day!

A photo-essay of dogs and cats to celebrate Canada's 150 years. Happy Birthday, Canada!

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.

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