Companion Animal Psychology News June 2019

What pigeons teach us about home, the view from a catcam, and stunning photographs of dogs... this month's Companion Animal Psychology news.

Cat cams, homing pigeons, and stunning dog photos... Companion Animal Psychology News June 2019


By Zazie Todd, PhD 

Wag news

I am very excited to share the news that my publisher, Greystone Books, has made the official announcement that my book, Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy, will be published in Spring 2020. This month I have been responding to the proof-reader’s queries and have also seen the page spreads. After all this hard work, it is finally starting to look like a real book.

Some of my favourites this month

 “When they were in their homes, the cats spent a lot of time following their humans around. They liked to be in the same room. A lot of my students were surprised at how attached cats were to people.” David Grimm interviewed one of the researchers behind the recent catcam study (don't miss the video!) and Dr. Mikel Delgado wrote about Can “catcams” help us study behaviour?

“I thought that keeping pigeons might teach me something about what home meant, and that by training them I would discover the new landscape we now inhabited alongside them.” Home to roost: My life as a pigeon fancier by Jon Day. An extract from his new book, Homing: On Pigeons, Dwellings and Why We Return.

Warm weather safety tips for cats by Pam Johnson Bennett covers a whole host of things you probably haven’t thought of.

“And yet, as I was driving yesterday, listening to another podcast, I had an “aha moment” about something I’d been told at least a dozen times.” We’ve been training backwards by Tim Steele.

“Polydactyl cats are often nicknamed “Hemingway cats” for their association with the Pulitzer- and Nobel Prize-winning author, who had a number of them at his Key West home." Why some cats have extra toes by Dr. Marty Becker.

“As science grapples with just how little it knows about the mysteries of human consciousness, it's also reassessing the complexity of animal minds.” Dr. Marc Bekoff was interviewed by CBC on Science is revealing more about animals’ rich complex inner lives.

“Unfortunately, in the United States, where dog registration is not consistently enforced, it is impossible to know how many dogs of different breeds live among us.” Prof. Clive Wynne on the issues with a recent study of dog bites.

Hidden Brain on NPR explores the contradictions and quandaries of our relationship with animals, with psychologist Dr. Hal Herzog.

Artist Aja Trier reimagines Van Goth with dogs… Starry night dogs by Kelly Richman-Abdou.

Dogs in focus looks at a selection of photos of dogs by famous photographers that are part of an exhibition in London in honour of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.

Animal Book Club

This month, the Animal Book Club is reading Once a Wolf: The Science Behind Our Dogs' Astonishing Genetic Evolution by Bryan Sykes. The book club reads 10 books a year, and new members are welcome. For those who prefer general chit-chat about animal books without a commitment to read, there's also the Animal Books Facebook group.

Once a Wolf is the Companion Animal Psychology book club book of the month

You can find all the books in my Amazon store: https://www.amazon.com/shop/animalbookclub

Upcoming webinar

On 16th July at 2pm Eastern time, I will be doing a webinar for the Pet Professional Guild called Debunk, Support Science, or Tell a Story? How to Communicate About Dog Training and Animal Welfare. If you want to know how to deal with misinformation in our field and how to craft an engaging message, this webinar is for you.

The webinar is open to anyone whether or not they are a member of the PPG, and everyone who signs up will automatically get a recording after the event. (Those in the British Isles can sign up via this link instead: https://ppgbi.com/event-3358398)

Support Companion Animal Psychology on Ko-fi

Companion Animal Psychology is open to everyone and supported by animal lovers like you. If you like what you see, you can buy me a coffee on Ko-fi, or even make it a monthly thing.



This month I’d like to say a special thank you to Jane Appleton, Vetanswers, and several anonymous people for their support and kind words. You help me keep this blog going and I really appreciate it!

Here at Companion Animal Psychology

Earlier this month, I was honoured to speak at the BC SPCA Animal Behaviour Science Symposium about what dog trainers need to know about cat behaviour. Jean Donaldson’s key note speech was a rousing call for regulation and standards in dog training. Other highlights for me included Dr. Chris Pachel’s workshop on communicating with clients, Debbie Martin’s talk on how trainers can work more closely with vets, and Kim Monteith’s inspiring talk about her work with the pets of vulnerable people in Vancouver’s poorest neighbourhood. There were also wonderful talks from Dr. Karen van Haaften , Dr. Claudia Richter, Sarah Pennington, and Lisbeth Plant. The date for next year’s conference is already set: 6 – 8 June 2020.

Recently I was quoted in how to pet a dog the right way on Mother Nature Network, and in nosework is scentsational for dogs on Fear Free Happy Homes (this story also includes some tips on nosework from instructor Sarah Owings for those wanting to give it a try).

At my Psychology Today blog Fellow Creatures, I just wrote about a new literature review on the challenges and benefits of pets for seniors. With an aging population, it’s important topic to consider.

My own post for the Train for Rewards blog party looked at three ways we can help support and encourage people to use reward-based training methods. It follows on nicely from an earlier post on new research that found confidence and emotions affect people’s use of positive reinforcement. If you’ve got a reactive dog, you’ll recognize some of the feelings mentioned in that post. As well, I looked at how Hungarian dog owners perceive “dominance” in the relationship between their dogs in multi-dog homes.

The Train for Rewards blog party

In mid-June, pet bloggers came together to celebrate the benefits of reward-based training in the fourth annual Train for Rewards blog party.  It was a huge success and I want to say a big thank you to everyone who took part.

Train for Rewards blog party button 2019

There are some incredible posts about dogs and cats, and a record number of entries this year. Dr. Marc Bekoff wrote about recent research on positive reinforcement training, in “Bad dog?” The psychology and importance of positive reinforcement training. Jessica Ring told the story of how she helped keep Gus occupied during a long period of crate rest, and Kristi Benson interviewed Suzanne Bryner about the Bruisers play group she runs for big dogs with a tricky play style. In one delight of reward-based training by Joan Forry you can even see a dog take a selfie. And Eileen Anderson explains that she likes to “teach the dog that treats fall from heaven whenever anything weird happens in the environment” as part of teaching your dog to self-interrupt.

Cats are not forgotten. Amongst others, Feline Engineering shares some tips on training cats  and ChirpyCats explains how to train your cat to stay off countertops and to do a high five (with some very cute videos!).

As well, a hilarious post from Melissa McCue McGrath’s dog explains why he should be allowed to roll in goose poop…   but you should also read McGrath’s more serious post about the magic of positive reinforcement dog training. But there are many other awesome posts, too many to mention here. Be sure to check them all out!

Pets in art

This month’s pets in art is titled Cat on Doorstep, and is by Henry Stacy Marks.

Cat on Doorstep, drawing, part of Companion Animal Psychology News June 2019


It’s in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago and is dated 1849-1848.

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