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Showing posts from November, 2019

Fellow Creatures: The Life Stages of Dogs

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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, one dog, and two …

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

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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

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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.

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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

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"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

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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…