Showing posts from March, 2019

Companion Animal Psychology Turns Seven

Celebrating seven years of blogging about science and pets here at Companion Animal Psychology.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

Today is exactly seven years since I started Companion Animal Psychology with the aim of finding out what science tells us about how to have happy dogs and cats.

In this time, I’ve been writing evidence-based articles about how best to care for our cats and dogs, and about new scientific research papers that are relevant to the everyday lives of people and their pets.

It’s wonderful to see how much the general public wants to know about science and our pets.

Over the years I’ve been honoured to speak to many scientists, veterinarians, dogs trainers, and others about their work with animals. As well, I’ve been lucky to publish some wonderful guest posts.

One thing that keeps me cheerful is to see just how many amazing people are working so hard to make the world a better place for both pets and their people.

This is my 445th post. In the last year, my most popular post was 

Which Dog Breeds Are the Best Alternatives to the French Bulldog?

If you love Frenchies but the health issues give you pause, these are the dogs like  French bulldogs that you might like too.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

In 2018, French bulldogs became the most popular breed of dog in the UK, overtaking the Labrador retriever, which had the number 1 spot for almost thirty years. French bulldogs are also in the top ten dog breeds in the US (no. 4), Canada (no. 5),  and Australia (no. 3).

French bulldogs are lovely dogs but unfortunately they can suffer from a number of inherited conditions, which can be distressing for the dog and heart-breaking for the owner.  Because they have a squashed face, they are at risk of Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome, can have trouble breathing, be reluctant to exercise, and may overheat in hot weather.

Veterinarian Shaun Oppermann recently told The Guardian,
"We tend to say: ‘Oh, it’s a French bulldog – it’s normal for them to breathe like that. But if your child sounded like that after a walk in the park, you’d ha…

Animal Lovers on the Books that Changed Their Lives

The books about animals that had a profound effect and even caused a change of direction.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

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Sometimes books can have a surprising effect on us.  The words mingle in our brain and make some kind of magic that percolates out into the real world.

I was curious to know which books about animals have affected people, and so I put out a call asking people about the animal book that changed their life. These are their answers.

Dog Sense by John Bradshaw
Emily Tronetti, MS, CPDT-KA, of Heal to Howl told me,

“In 2014, I was working as a veterinary receptionist and had my own pet sitting and canine massage business. One day, at a bookstore, I found the book Dog Sense: How the New Science of Dog Behavior Can Make You A Better Friend to Your Pet by Dr. John Bradshaw.

This book changed everything I thought I knew about dogs. I was amazed by the long and interconnected evolutionary history between humans and dogs. I was fascinated by how dogs perce…

Companion Animal Psychology News March 2019

Animal cruelty investigations, cat music, dog parks, and interviews with dogs...the latest Companion Animal Psychology news.

By Zazie Todd, PhD Favourites from around the web this month:
If you’ve ever tried to get a wriggly puppy into a harness, this post is for you. Gearing up: How to harness your dog or puppy by Joan Grassbaugh Forry CTC.

“The one symptom I cannot ignore, however, is my dog’s tiny head, resting on my leg during a portion of the day when she’s usually ignoring me.” How your dog knows when you’re sick, by Amanda Mull.

"When you’re training a dog using a good plan and good treats, the dog is so keen to work it feels almost criminal." Kristi Benson CTC ponders the question, is training your dog unnatural?

“I have been leading a team studying animal cruelty investigation work and workers for the last few years. It is difficult research, to put it mildly.” Preventing animal cruelty is physically and emotionally risky for front-line animal workers by Dr. Kendra C…

Dogs' Personality Traits Vary With Age (and Dogs Tend to Be Like Their Owners)

Dogs are most trainable during middle age, and there are some fascinating links between the personality of dogs and their owners, research shows.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

Do you ever think much about the different personalities of dogs? New research looks at the personality profiles of dogs (and their owners) and finds that dog personality seems to change with age.

As well, the owner’s personality is linked to the dog’s personality. The study, by Dr. William Chopik and Dr. Jonathan Weaver (both Michigan State University) is published in Journal of Research and Personality.

The results show that some personality traits are more pronounced in dogs in middle age (6-8 years).

This was the case for responsiveness to training, which peaked at age 7.44. Younger dogs were rated as less responsive to training, and older dogs were not much different from middle-aged ones. As well, dogs scored higher on this trait if they were trained by their owners.

Aggression towards people was lower in young dogs, …

The 2019 BC SPCA Animal Behaviour Science Symposium

The BC SPCA Animal Behaviour Science Symposium takes place 7-10 June 2019.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

The keynote speaker is Jean Donaldson of The Academy for Dog Trainers.

Other speakers include Dr. Chris Pachel, Debbie Martin, Dr. Claudia Richter, Kim Monteith, Dr. Karen van Haaften, Sarah Pennington, Renée Erdman, Lisbeth Plant, and myself.

As well, there is a learning lab on humane handling and cooperative veterinary care.

Full details are available on the Animal Behaviour Science Symposium website.

Maybe I'll see you there?

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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.


Overweight Dogs Don't Live as Long, and Scientists Have Calculated How Much Less

Research on 12 popular dog breeds finds the average difference in life span between normal weight and overweight or obese dogs, and it makes for worrying reading.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

We know that being overweight or obese is bad for pet dogs, but just how bad is it?

For the first time, scientists have worked out the difference in average life span for normal weight and overweight pet dogs of 12 breeds. The study by Carina Salt (WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition) et al. is published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

The scientists looked at some of the most popular breeds of all sizes, from Chihuahuas and Pomeranians to Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds.

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The study only looked at dogs that have been spayed or neutered.

Co-author Prof. Alex German (University of Liverpool) told Science  Daily,
"Owners are often unaware that their dog is overweight, and many may not realise the impact that it can have on health. What they may not kn…