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.

Companion Animal Psychology News November 2019

By Zazie Todd, PhD

My favourites this month

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Julie 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 pet cats outdoors from International Cat Care.

Want to put your dog on a raw meat diet? It could be dangerous for both of you. Michael Price looks at some new research.

“Every now and then, however, the owner will present a paradigm shift and ask, instead, “Can you help me make my dog’s life better?”” Where there’s a Will, there’s a way by Lisa Skavienski.

“‘Discipline’ is a word that brings up a wheelbarrow full of feelings. And here is the flat and bald truth of the matter: discipline and dogs just don’t go together.” Kristi Benson on the importance of using reward-based training methods.

Melissa Breau of Fenzi Dog Sports Academy speaks to NYT bestselling author Cat Warren about her Young Reader’s edition of What the Dog Knows

“If we continue to share our world with domesticated dogs and a myriad of other nonhuman animals, it is our responsibility to compassionately help them adjust to our world. “ Dog training offers valuable lessons in humane education by Mary Angilly at Dr. Marc Bekoff’s blog.

“The placebo effect shows up in pets too, but these treatments are fooling owners, not their animals.” A crucial blind spot in veterinary medicine by Emily Anthes.

Nature photographer of the year 2019. Stunning photos of wildlife.

Animal Book Club

This month, the Animal Book Club is reading Louise Barrett’s book, Beyond the Brain: How Body and Environment Shape Animal and Human Minds. It’s a fascinating account that covers all kinds of animals including Portia spiders, scrub jays, and humans.

Animal Book Club book of the month - Beyond the Brain

You can find this and many great animal books in my Amazon store:

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 Jessica Ring and the two anonymous people who bought me a coffee. Companion Animal Psychology is a real labour of love and your support makes a difference!

Companion Animal Psychology T-Shirts on Sale

If you would like a Companion Animal Psychology t-shirt, hoodie, sweatshirt, or tote bag, now’s the time! You can get 10% off until midnight (Pacific Time) on Monday 25th November with this link.

All of the styles come in a variety of colours and sizes so there is something for everyone!

Companion Animal Psychology hoodie

Here at Companion Animal Psychology

Thank you to everyone who sent best wishes to Bodger last month after his cancer diagnosis. He’s had a tough few weeks but I’m pleased to report that he is doing much better now and has some of his bounce back.

This month, I enjoyed chatting about dogs and fireworks on the Darren Adam show on LBC radio. I was quoted in MEL magazine for a story about why dogs hump, and by Science magazine in a story about the risks of aversive dog training methods. As well, I was honoured to be recognized by International Cat Care for my grade on their Certificate of Feline Behaviour.

Over at my Psychology Today blog, I wrote about the life stages of dogs from puppies to seniors.

Here at Companion Animal Psychology, I marked a milestone of 500 posts with a blog post about how reward-based training isn’t just for sunny days.

I was also incredibly honoured to interview Dr. Alexandra Horowitz about her new book, Our Dogs, Ourselves: The Story of a Singular Bond. This is a delightful, thoughtful book - don’t miss the interview.

Companion Animal Psychology Interview with Alexandra Horowitz

I wrote about some new research that identifies behaviour problems due to a poor home environment as the biggest welfare issues for pet cats, in cats’ im-purr-fect homes are stressing them out.

And I also covered a survey that finds dogs’ fear of fireworks can get better (or worse) – a good reason to do some training.

Pets in Art

This month’s Pets in Art is this wonderful painting of a cat watching a spider, by Japanese artist Ōide Tōkō. It dates from 1888-1892 and is in the collection of The Met but not currently on display.

Companion Animal Psychology: Pets in Art. Cat watching spider by Oide Toko.

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