Showing posts from May, 2018

Cat and Dog Adopters are Satisfied with their New Pet

A new study shows most people who adopt a dog or cat from a shelter are happy with their choice, and provides information on the most common behaviour problems.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

Wherever you are, there are many dogs and cats in shelters or rescues waiting for new homes. One of the reasons some people give for not wanting to adopt a pet from a shelter is that they are concerned about behaviour problems. A new study by Sophie Scott et al (University of Adelaide) looks at the behaviour problems people report in their newly-adopted dog or cat, and finds out how they feel about their new pet.

The results are very positive and show most people are happy with their new dog or cat.

Sophie Scott told me in an email,
“It's incredibly important we understand the nature of adopter satisfaction after the adoption of a cat or dog. Issues such as problem behaviours and/or conflict with other pets or children can affect adopter satisfaction and are often attributed to adoption failure, so the ab…

Invitation to the Train for Rewards Blog Party 2018

Join the pet blogging community in supporting reward-based training of dogs, cats, and other companion animals. #Train4Rewards

By Zazie Todd, PhD

Are you a blogger? Do you support reward-based training for dogs and other animals? Would you like to take part in the #Train4Rewards blog party?

You are invited to write a blog post about reward-based training of dogs or other companion animals, post it on your own blog on the set date, then come and share a link to it here. Bloggers from anywhere in the world are invited to take part.

In the past, posts have covered the training of dogs, cats, horses and pigs. Posts on the training of rats, mice, ferrets, rabbits, and fish are all welcome too. Read on to find out more.

If you are not a blogger but still want to take part, you can do so by reading and sharing the posts, and sharing a photo of your own pet on social media on 16th June with the hashtag #Train4Rewards.

Here is how bloggers can take part.

On Thursday 14th or Friday 15th June:

What is Negative Reinforcement in Dog Training?

A user-friendly guide to understanding negative reinforcement in dog training – and the three alternatives you should know about.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

If you are new to dog training, or want to understand some of the language of dog training, this article is for you. It covers the technical definition of negative reinforcement in dog training, examples of how it is used, what research tells us about negative reinforcement, and alternatives that you can use instead (along with some common mistakes people make, so you know how to get it right).

This article is part of a series of guides that also covers positive reinforcement and positive punishment in dog training.

Let’s start with the technical definition.

What is negative reinforcement?
Negative reinforcement is one way to train dogs (and other animals).

Negative reinforcement means taking something away that increases or maintains the frequency of a behaviour.

The ‘negative’ part refers to something being removed, and ‘reinforcement’ m…

Let Dogs Be Dogs and Cats' Environmental Necessities

The latest in the 'better world' series on dogs and cats.

For more information, you can read how to make the world better for dogs and how to make the world better for cats.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

Updates to Companion Animal Psychology's Privacy Policy

The Companion Animal Psychology privacy policy has been updated effective from 16 May 2018.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

Specifically, we would like you to know that:

Email subscribers can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the ‘unsubscribe’ link that you will find at the bottom of every email from Companion Animal PsychologyThe only way to subscribe to the email subscription list is to specifically opt in. We will never add you, even if you email us about the blog.Anyone who has added a link (blog post url and/or photo) to a link-up can delete their link/photo at any timeEmail addresses provided for the purpose of link-ups will not be used for any other purpose. That is, we may communicate with you about the link-up if necessary, but will not add you to the email subscribers list.Google/Blogger have made changes to the way comments are handled, and in particular OpenID is no longer supported. Any comments previously left under OpenID will be anonymized. Comments can still be posted from a Googl…

What type of cat do people prefer?

Research investigates people's preferences for cats with normal, squashed or long head shapes.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

Lately we’ve been hearing a lot about brachycephalic dogs and the health issues they can have as a result of having a squashed face, which include breathing difficulties and eye issues (read about why people choose brachycephalic dogs).

But what about cats? Some breeds of cat also have squashed faces. A new study by Dr. Mark Farnworth (Nottingham Trent University) et al set out to investigate people’s preferences by asking them to rate photos of different types of cat.

Dr. Farnworth told me in an email,
“There has been quite a change in the companion animal population with more and more consumer desire for extreme conformations. Although these extremes are not yet mainstream (shown by the reduced desirability of cats with skulls that deviate from ‘normal’), people who own the extremes (e.g. Persians or Siamese) show increased preference for cats with similar skull shape…

Sensory enrichment and evolutionary history

The latest in the 'better world' series about dogs and cats.

For more information, you can read how to make the world better for dogs and how to make the world better for cats.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

Clicker-plus-food and food-only are equally good dog training methods

Scientists test the use of a clicker-plus-food versus the use of food only in a positive reinforcement tricks training course for novice dogs, and find both work equally well.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

The study, by Lynna Feng et al (La Trobe University), used a randomized design in which dogs were assigned to one of three groups: a group that was taught with a clicker and food rewards (clicker training), a group that was taught with just food rewards, and a group that was wait-listed for the course to act as a control.

Dog trainers have a range of beliefs about the value of a clicker in dog training. Some trainers say the benefits include more efficient training, more fun, and a better human-animal bond. On the other hand, some trainers say the clicker is awkward for novice dog trainers to learn to use and that clicker training leads to more excitable and impulsive dogs.

An earlier study that compared the clicker-plus-food to use of a verbal marker-plus-food to food-only dog training found n…

Companion Animal Psychology Book Club May 2018

"...From Fearful to Fear Free™ addresses fear, anxiety, and stress, issues that dog owners frequently encounter but seldom understand."

By Zazie Todd, PhD

In May, the Companion Animal Psychology Book Club is reading From Fearful to Fear Free: A Positive Program to Free Your Dog from Anxiety, Fears, and Phobias by Marty Becker, Lisa Radosta, Wailani Sung and Mikkel Becker, edited by Kim Campbell Thornton.
From the back cover,  "Straight from the experts comes the Fear Free™ program, a positive-reinforcement plan with proven results in helping fearful, anxious, and stressed dogs. From the knowledge and experience of 'America's veterinarian' - Dr. Marty Becker - and an esteemed group of pioneers in veterinary medicine and behavior, From Fearful to Fear Free™ addresses fear, anxiety, and stress, issues that dog owners frequently encounter but seldom understand. Filled with anecdotes from their own practices, detailed techniques, and helpful resources, this inform…

How to Pet Cats and Dogs

Give pets a choice, observe their body language and know where they prefer to be stroked.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

A few years ago, I wrote a post about how people with pets can learn from the ways scientists give companion animals choices in research. It was a popular post that generated a lot of discussion. Today I thought I’d return to the topic of choice and look at how we can give dogs and cats choices when we are stroking them.
Why does it matter? Because giving pets a choice can help them to feel in control and less stressed, which is good for their welfare. And there’s the added benefit of making them less likely to bite or scratch us, because we are not forcing them into a situation where we do things they don’t like.

Does your dog or cat want to be petted?
For many of us, one of the things we love about our companion animals is the fact we can pet them. 
It’s relaxing to sit and stroke a cat or dog. But do they always enjoy it?
One way to find out is to see if your dog or cat will …