Showing posts from November, 2019

Fellow Creatures, Plus T-Shirts on Sale

I have a new post on small animal blood donation over at my Psychology Today blog, Fellow Creatures.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

Did you know that dogs and cats can donate blood to help other pets in need? It turns out that most pet owners don't - but once they know, most would be willing for their pet to be a blood donor.

Dogs and cats can donate blood (but most people don't know) looks at some new research on what people know about pet blood banks, and the motivations they give for being willing to let their pet donate blood.

The post also includes information about what to do if you would like your pet to become a blood donor.

T-Shirts on Sale The Trust Kindness and  Cookies t-shirt celebrates all that we love about reward-based dog training: Trust in science, the kindness of reward-based methods, and cookies as positive reinforcement, all coming together in a wonderful package.

This t-shirt, and Companion Animal Psychology logo tees, are  on sale! Get 10% off all t-shirts, hoodies a…

Three Years of the Animal Book Club

If you’re looking for some great reading about animals, look no further than the Animal Book Club.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

This page contains affiliate links.

The Animal Book Club is three years old this month, which means we’re on book number 31: Beyond the Brain: How Body and Environment Shape Animal and Human Minds by Louise Barrett.

We’ve read some great books over the last year, from Our Dogs, Ourselves: The Story of a Singular Bond by Alexandra Horowitz to What the Dog Knows: Scent, Science, and the Amazing Ways Dogs Perceive the World by Cat Warren, Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet by John Bradshaw and The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter Than You Think by Brian Hare. (for a full list, see the animal book club page).

This past year I’ve also been honoured to interview some amazing authors about their books:
Dr. Alexandra Horowitz (Our Dogs, Ourselves)  Dr. Mark Goldstein (Lions, Tigers, and Hamsters)  Cat Warren (What the Dog Knows)
On …

Hiding Places for Your Cat

The best ways to provide cats with safe spaces in the home, from cat caves to cat trees and DIY options.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

Everyone wants a happy cat, but cats like their environment to be set up right for them. One of the biggest welfare issues affecting pet cats is social behaviour issues due to a poor home environment. The five pillars of a healthy feline environment provide guidelines on what cats need, and one of those pillars is a safe space.

When cats are faced with something stressful, they like to hide in order to avoid confrontation. Providing safe spaces gives them somewhere to go and relax when everything is fine, and somewhere to hide if they are feeling stressed.

From a cat’s perspective, the best hiding places are the right size for them and enclosed. Cats also like to be high up and have nice places to perch where they can see what’s going on. In a multi-cat home, cats that are friends may choose to cuddle up in the same safe spaces, but cats should always have access …

Companion Animal Psychology News November 2019

The placebo effect in pets, the meaning of discipline, and stunning wildlife photos... this month's Companion Animal Psychology News.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

My favourites this monthJulie Hecht is an outstanding blogger who writes about the stuff dogs really want you to know about, like urine and humping and farts and a life worth living. As she bows out from her Scientific American blog Dogpies, don’t miss her final post, Dog science is timeless, and all the great posts it links to  And be sure to follow her on social media to keep up with what she does next.

"That leads me to wonder: why, despite increasing evidence, do some people deny that animals have emotions or feel pain?... I think it’s because it’s easier to hurt them if you think of them as dumb brutes. " Great interview with Carl Safina by Claudia Dreifus: Carl Safina is certain your dog loves you.

Indoor-only or outdoor access? A detailed, evidence-based consideration of the advantages and disadvantages of allowing …

Fellow Creatures: The Life Stages of Dogs

I have a new post over at my Psychology Today blog, Fellow Creatures. It looks at the life stages of dogs, from puppies to seniors, and what we know about dog behaviour during these different periods.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

The 2019 American Animal Hospital Association Canine Life Stage Guidelines divide the dog's lifespan into four stages.  My post focuses on the behavioural aspects of each stage. As well, there are new guidelines from AAHA on the age at which dogs should be spayed/neutered, depending on their size. Learn more in the life stages of dogs.

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.


Cats’ Im-purr-fect Homes are Stressing Them Out, Study Says

Behaviour issues because of a poor home environment are the biggest welfare concern for cats, experts say.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

Cats are incredibly popular pets. There are an estimated 95.6 million pet cats in the US, 10.9 million pet cats in the UK, and 9.3 million in Canada. They have a reputation as being easy pets, but is it possible that means we aren’t doing enough to keep our cats happy? New research published in Veterinary Record suggests that is the case.

Cat experts were surveyed for their opinions on the most important welfare issues for pet cats, and asked to rank them according to severity, duration, and prevalence.

Cat owners can avoid these issues by making sure they know about cats. Prof. Cathy Dwyer (Scotland's Rural College), co-author of the research, told me in an email,
“I would most want cat owners to understand more about cat behaviour – why cats do what they do, what they need for good welfare and how we can provide that for them. To be honest (and as an ethol…

Reward-Based Dog Training Isn’t Just for Sunny Days

Answering common questions about dog training methods.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

Back when I had two dogs, Ghost and Bodger, I had a lot of questions about the information I saw about dogs and especially on how to train them. It just didn’t fit with the kind of pet owner I wanted to be, or with what I knew from my background in Psychology. Learning more about dogs and cats, and sharing that information with people, was my main motivation for starting Companion Animal Psychology. And here we are, seven-and-a-half-years later, and on my 500th post.

Some common themes in my inbox over the years tell us about changes in how we think about pets, and in dog training in particular.

This page contains affiliate links.
Questions about dog training methods The most common questions I get are about dog training methods. One set of questions is from people wanting links to share with others they hope to persuade to stop using electronic collars, leash jerks, or other aversive methods. I typically share se…

Animal Book Club November 2019

"This is an excellent book about comparative cognition, how minds and brains evolve, and how to think about the minds of animals."―Nicola S. Clayton, University of Cambridge.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

This page contains affiliate links.

This month, the Animal Book Club is reading Beyond the Brain: How Body and Environment Shape Animal and Human Minds by Louise Barrett.

From the cover,
"When a chimpanzee stockpiles rocks as weapons or when a frog sends out mating calls, we might easily assume these animals know their own motivations--that they use the same psychological mechanisms that we do. But as Beyond the Brain indicates, this is a dangerous assumption because animals have different evolutionary trajectories, ecological niches, and physical attributes. How do these differences influence animal thinking and behavior? Removing our human-centered spectacles, Louise Barrett investigates the mind and brain and offers an alternative approach for understanding animal and human cogn…