Companion Animal Psychology News June 2018

Make sure you haven't missed a thing with the latest round-up about dogs and cats from Companion Animal Psychology.

Don't miss a thing with the latest round-up on dogs and cats with Companion Animal Psychology

By Zazie Todd, PhD 

Some of my favourites from around the web this month

This page contains affiliate links which means I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases at no cost to you.

Homeless people and their pets: ‘She saved me as much as I saved her.’ First-hand accounts in The Guardian of how much pets mean to homeless people in the US. “She wakes up so excited every morning and gets so happy about the littlest thing, like rolling around in the grass or even just the weather being nice. Seeing her like that reminds me to stay happy for simple things too.”

Dogs and humans have similar social and emotional brains. Dr. Carlo Siracusa of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists says dogs struggle in a society they don’t always understand. “They are attached to humans and willing to share their lives, but they want to feel safe in an environment that is almost entirely controlled by humans.”

What’s the deal with vegetarians who hate vegetables? Dr. Hal Herzog on some fascinating new research into our sense of taste and vegetarianism. “Because cruciferous vegetables taste bitter to supertasters, you would think supertasters would be less likely to become vegetarians than nontasters.”

Dogs use various gestures to get what they want from us. Dr. Marc Bekoff on a new study about referential signaling by dogs. “The four requests that were most commonly used that resulted in dogs being satisfied (ASOs) accounted for 242 bouts of communication and included: “Scratch me!”, “Give me food/drink," “Open the door, and “Get my toy/bone.””

Predation and dogs: Normalizing behaviour. Guest post by Lisa Skavienski at the Academy for Dog Trainers. "I hope it helps people to step back and view these events for what they really are and find some patience and understanding for their pet dogs."

How your pet REALLY sees the world: Images reveal animal vision by Cheyenne MacDonald for The Daily Mail. "Compared to humans, most species ‘see the world with much less detail than we do,’ says lead author Eleanor Caves, a postdoctoral researcher at Duke."

When do kittens open their eyes? An informative post from Denise LeBeau at Catster  “Answering the question "When do kittens open their eyes" gives you insight into more than just a baby kitty’s eyesight. Knowing when a kitten opens his eyes can let you know his age, what to feed him and how to care for him.”

Why you’re probably training your cat all wrong by Linda Lombardi at National Geographic. “Yes, they're independent and willful, but felines can be taught certain behaviors—to the benefit of both cat and human.”

Help Researchers with a Survey on Aging in Dogs

The Family Dog Project is conducting a large survey of aging in dogs and they would like your help!
In a blog post about the study the researchers say, “There are still many unanswered questions regarding the natural ageing process in family dogs. While it is common knowledge that ageing leads to the decline of cognitive and physical abilities, the nature and dynamics of these declines is still very much under debate. So far, there is no agreement as to what age dogs start to show symptoms of ageing.”

You can help! They are hoping for a large number of participants from around the world.

The survey is already available in several languages, and more are coming soon. You can take part here:

The questionnaire in English - UK

The questionnaire in English - USA

The questionnaire in English - Canada

The questionnaire in French - France, Canada

The questionnaire in German - Germany/Austria/Switzerland

Animal Book Club

The book of the month is Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It's So Hard to Think Straight About Animals by Hal Herzog, and it’s been generating lots of discussion. Are you reading it too?

You can find a full list of all the books read by the Companion Animal Psychology Book Club here. The book club will be accepting new members in July so check the page for info.

The Train for Rewards Blog Party

The Train for Rewards Blog Party was a huge success, with 27 bloggers writing about the training of dogs, cats, parrots, humans and velociraptors. Check out the blog party for some fun, thoughtful, and interesting posts.

Huge thanks to everyone who took part, whether by contributing a post and/or sharing your favourites.

Support Companion Animal Psychology

I have signed up for Ko-fi, which allows people to support creators by buying them a coffee. Ko-fi is free to use and does not charge admin fees. If you like what you see at Companion Animal Psychology, you can show your support in this way. Thank you!

The button is on my 'about' page, and you'll find my ko-fi page at

Here at Companion Animal Psychology

I spoke to Dr. Ainslie Butler of Science Borealis about catnip. If you won’t talk to your cat about catnip, who will?

In early June I was honoured to speak at the BC SPCA’s Animal Behaviour Science Symposium. It was a wonderful and inspiring two days packed with interesting talks about dogs and anxiety. Many thanks to the BC SPCA for putting together such a brilliant conference! I was delighted to learn there will be another ABSS next year.

I was also very happy to meet so many people who read Companion Animal Psychology - thank you to everyone who came and said hello!

“Yes, they're independent and willful, but felines can be taught certain behaviours—to the benefit of both cat and human.” – Dr. Marty Becker.

On the blog, you’ll find a fascinating interview with Dr. Marty Becker, who told all about how the Fear Free movement came about. It was a real pleasure to speak to him and learn more about how we can help pets at the vet, and ambitious plans for Fear Free.

My recent post, study outlines reasons to ban electronic collars for dogs, has also been getting a lot of views. Dr. Marc Bekoff wrote about the study, my post, and the responses he got when he shared it. And in late May, I reported on a study that found most adopters are happy with their new pet even if there are some behavioural problems.

Meanwhile my series on dog training continued with an explanation of negative reinforcement in dog training.

As well, I have a blog post at Psychology Today on a new study that looks at whether service dogs help military veterans with PTSD.

If you have suggestions for topics you’d like to see covered on Companion Animal Psychology, do let me know. You can email me on companimalpsych at gmail dot com.

A Better World for Dogs and Cats

These are the latest images from the series about a better world for dogs and a better world for cats.

Dr. Ilana Reisner on choosing to train dogs with kindness and generosity

Dr. Jenny Stavisky on how cats see the world

Dr. Pete Wedderburn on breeding dogs for good health

Zazie Todd, PhD, is the award-winning author of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy and Purr: The Science of Making Your Cat Happy. She is the creator of the popular blog, Companion Animal Psychology, writes The Pawsitive Post premium newsletter, and also has a column at Psychology Today. Todd lives in Maple Ridge, BC, with her husband, one dog, and two cats. 

Useful links:

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. As an Etsy affiliate and Marks and Spencer affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Follow me!

Support me