Companion Animal Psychology News August 2019

The importance of play, chickens as domesticated animals, and beautiful cat photos – this month’s news.

Companion Animal Psychology News August 2019

By Zazie Todd PhD

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My favourites this month

“It took two weeks for her to start greeting friends normally (people she knows and loves). Before that, when they would come, she would run up to my bed and hide.” An important post from Eileen Anderson with a story from a dog owner about what happened when a trainer used a shock collar on her dog, and commentary from Eileen about the issues with shock collars and an unregulated industry.

“Play is so important for normal development that it takes a lot to deprive an animal of play and play deprived animals are a mess.” Giz asks, do animals work out, with lots of great comments about play. Compiled by Daniel Koltz.

Do cats hold a grudge? Dr. Mikel Delgado looks at two studies of the effects of different handling techniques on cats.

Traveling with your dog. interviews Suzanne Bryner of Lucky Fido Dog Training, and you'll find lots of great tips for trips with your dog.

"It makes me feel optimistic about humans to hear us talk to other animals. We are at our best in those moments when we extend the circle we’ve drawn around ourselves to include them." In things people say to their dogsDr. Alexandra Horowitz has been listening in on what people say to their canine friends. This essay is adapted from her new book, Our Dogs, Ourselves, which publishes September 3rd.

“Our chickens appear to be fond of us, too. They come running towards us when we walk out our door; they also run towards our dog, yet are able to distinguish him from other neighbourhood dogs.” Is the rooster with its thuggish ways a domestic animal? Consider the rooster by Amanda Giracca.

The books on my bookshelf. I always look forward to reviews from Dr. Patricia McConnell, and here she shares her current reading list.

“I prefer to believe that most people who choose to share their homes and hearts with dogs have the best intentions in mind—they're not necessarily "bad people." However, many people who choose to live with dogs aren't dog literate, or fluent in dog, or perhaps haven't done the deep thinking that's required before bringing a dog into their lives.” Are dogs really our best friends or family? asks Dr. Marc Bekoff.

“The United States leads the pack with 225 dogs per 1,000 people.” Dr. Hal Herzog explores differences in pet ownership between countries.

Learn about socialization in this podcast on the importance of kitten socialization in which Steve Dale speaks with Krista Sirois DVM, resident in behavioural medicine, via Fear Free Pets.

What kids can learn from four-legged laboratories. On WUNC radio, Anita Rao speaks to Cat Warren about the forthcoming young reader’s edition of What the Dog Knows (publication date, 8th October). This is a lovely interview, and Warren also reads an extract from the book.

There is a new book with cat photographs from Walter Chandoha, and you can see some of the gorgeous pictures here.


I am delighted to say that Companion Animal Psychology merch is now permanently available. You will always find a link to it via the ‘merch’ tab at the top of the blog. This beautiful design is by Lili Chin for Companion Animal Psychology, and shows my dog and cat greeting each other.

To celebrate, I am offering a 10% discount until 27th August with this link.

Companion Animal Psychology news - merch is available. Check out the discount code!

A portion of all proceeds will be donated to the BC SPCA Maple Ridge.

Support Companion Animal Psychology

Companion Animal Psychology is open to everyone and supported by animal lovers like you. If you would like to show your support, you can do so with a monthly or one-off donation via Ko-fi at

This month, I would like to say a big thank you to Mack Mackintosh and several anonymous people for their support. It really makes a difference!

I left a private post for supporters on Ko-fi so make sure you check it out if you have not done so already.

Animal Book Club

This month the Animal Book Club is reading What’s a Dog For? by John Homans. It’s a wide-ranging take on our relationship with dogs.

Cover of What's a Dog For? The Companion Animal Psychology book of the month

Membership of the book club is open to all but you must commit to reading and commenting on at least 7 of the 10 books each year. For those who prefer general chit-chat about books, there is the Animal Books group on Facebook. You can find links to both on the book club page.

All of the books read by the group – and my suggestions for other reading – can be found in my Amazon store:

Here at Companion Animal Psychology

Recently, I was quoted in this article from This Dog’s Life about whether you should take your dog to the dog park. People seem to have strong opinions about dog parks, but what do you think your dog thinks of them?

Animal hoarding is a serious issue that can have terrible consequences for the animals involved. It’s important to take account of the mental health aspects of this issue. At my Psychology Today blog Fellow Creatures, I wrote about a case study of Wake County, NC, where they now take an integrated approach to animal hoarding.

I also wrote about some research that shows health issues in brachycephalic dogs are often missed by dog owners, who perhaps think some of the signs are ‘normal for the breed’. This research shows that if you have a Bulldog, French Bulldog, or Pug, it’s important to pay close attention to their health, but it also raises questions about the need to improve welfare for these breeds.

Here on Companion Animal Psychology, I wrote about studies of the health conditions affecting Labrador Retrievers and French Bulldogs. When you’re getting a dog, it’s always a good idea to research any health issues with the breed, so that you know which questions to ask the breeder. There are a few surprises in the results of these studies, including on aggression in French Bulldogs, and the links between coat colour and health in Labrador Retrievers.

Fearful dogs find shelters difficult places to be, but some promising new research finds that just 15 minutes, twice a day, of an enrichment program with a person can help.

Since it’s summer, I’ve been taking some time to catch up on some reading. You can see my summer reading list. Have you read any of these books? What are you reading at the moment? I would love to know!

Animals in Art

See how I’ve renamed this section? That’s because this month’s artwork is this beautiful squirrel teapot, which is in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Animals in Art - Squirrel Teapot. Companion Animal Psychology News, Aug 2019

"Teapot" by Meissen Manufactory is licensed under CC0 1.0

It was made by Meissen Manufactory in Germany in 1735. Meissen still make beautiful porcelain today.

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. 

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