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Showing posts from 2020

Why do people pick pedigree cats with flat faces? (Research)

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People with flat-faced (brachycephalic) cats don’t realize the health issues associated with the breed, study shows.
By Zazie Todd, PhD

Companion Animal Psychology News October 2020

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Funny animal pictures, wolf leaders, and barriers to being a vet - this month's Companion Animal Psychology news.


By Zazie Todd, PhD
My favourites this month

Best Friends: Being Kind to Pets and to People

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How kindness - in dog training, animal behaviour, on rehoming pets, and to others in our profession -  can change the world for dogs and cats.
By Zazie Todd, PhD

Happy Thanksgiving

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Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!


By Zazie Todd, PhD
It is Thanksgiving here in Canada. In this strangest of years, I wish you and yours love, peace, safety, and good health.  I am thankful to everyone who has supported this blog and my book, Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy. I am also thankful to each and every one of you for your dedication and care for companion animals and their people. And of course, so grateful to the doctors and nurses, scientists, public health specialists, and everyone else on the front line in this pandemic.Wherever you are, I hope today brings you many moments of joy, and good company even if it's from a distance or through a screen. Happy Thanksgiving! Take care.Zazie
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 an…

The Writer’s Pet: Eva Holland and Nerve

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Eva Holland on her Alaskan Husky, Tacoma, and her book, Nerve: Adventures in the Science of Fear.

No. 3 in the series The Writer’s Pet by Zazie Todd, PhD.  
On the way back down the mountain from ice climbing, Eva Holland suddenly finds herself frozen with fear. This experience, and the recent loss of her mother, prompted Holland to write Nerve: Adventures in the Science of Fear, which beautifully pairs personal experience with the science of fear and anxiety. The New York Times described Nerve as “An intimate and wide-ranging look at fears and how we overcome them.” Holland told me about her dog, Tacoma, the benefits of stepping away from the screen for a dog walk, and her approach to writing Nerve. This page contains affiliate links.
What is your dog’s name?TacomaType of pet?Alaskan HuskyWhat do you love most about your pet? I love how happy he is almost all of the time - he's been this incredible shot of joy in my life during a tough year. He was a work…

The Artisan Halloween Gift Guide for Pet Lovers

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A guide to artisan picks for Halloween with a pet-related theme.


By Zazie Todd, PhD
My selection of artisan Halloween picks from Etsy, including dog and cat collars, cat toys, Halloween face masks, and spooky decor. 
This page contains affiliate links. Above, clockwise from top left:Happy Halloweenie throw pillow with dachshund and crow by Soft Style Studio. Halloween cat garland by Embroidery by Ness. Holographic X-ray rabbit sticker by SSBunny Imports. Sterling silver cubic zirconia spider brooch by JandM Canada.
Above, clockwise from top left:Halloween dog bow tie by Puppy Riot. Bat Halloween dog collar in buffalo plaid by Polka Dot Tails. Orange and white ghost Halloween dog collar "The Novak" by Puddle Jumper Pups. Colourful pumpkins dog collar by Wag Tail Collars.

Clockwise from top left:Bats in the Belfry breakaway bow tie kitty collar by Atelier Fiber Arts. Halloween spider wand toy by Entertain Thy Feline. Moon cat toy with catnip and valerian by Cookies Em…

Interview with Lili Chin about Doggie Language

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“I hope that this book will help people see that their dogs are communicating all the time, and that they’re worth listening to.”
By Zazie Todd, PhD
Lili Chin's book, Doggie Language: A Dog Lover's Guide to Understanding Your Best Friend, is a fun guide to your dog's body language that is beautifully illustrated and engagingly written. If you already love Lili's work then you know you'll love this book. I spoke to Lili about the book and how she got into illustrating dogs' body language. This page contains affiliate links. Zazie: How did the book come about?Lili: I was actually contacted by Summersdale Publishers in the UK. They do a lot of gift books. This was about 3 years ago and they had seen my Doggie Language poster starring Boogie the Boston Terrier, the one that’s been all over the internet, and they said “Would you be interested in turning this into a book?” At the time I was hesitant. I said, “I don’t really see the point of turni…

Companion Animal Psychology Book Club October 2020

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"Canine Enrichment is a deep dive into what dogs really need and how we can provide it." -- Dr. Patricia McConnell.


By Zazie Todd, PhD

The month, the Animal Book Club is reading Canine Enrichment for the Real World: Making It a Part of Your Dog’s Daily Life by Allie Bender and Emily Strong. This page contains affiliate links. From the book's description:"In the world of dogs, there is now more awareness than ever of the need to provide enrichment, especially in shelters. But what exactly is enrichment? The concept is pretty straightforward: learn what your dog’s needs are, and then structure an environment and routine that allows the dog to engage in behaviors they find enriching. To truly enrich your dog’s life, you should offer them opportunities to engage in natural or instinctual behaviors. Aside from the limitations we have to place on a dog in today’s modern, busy world, the biggest constraint to enriching your dog’s life is your imagination!"This and all of…

Interview with Oluademi James-Daniel on Inclusivity in Dog Training

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"The general consensus was there’s no inclusion in the dog world at all right now. And how do we fix that?"

By Zazie Todd, PhD
Oluademi James-Daniel is determined to do something about inclusivity in the dog world, and she has a vision to make a difference. Earlier this year, Oluademi - a dog trainer from Brooklyn - started a Facebook group called Inclusivity in Dog Training. I spoke to her about the group’s aims and what we can all do to increase diversity and inclusivity in dog training. 
Zazie: This year, you started the Inclusivity in Dog Training group, along with fellow admins Ameera Skandarani and Samantha Phi. Why did you decide to start the group?Oluademi: It was right in the most recent iteration of Black Lives Matter really coming to the forefront again. It’s something that happens all the time, but every time it comes to the forefront like that it’s a very helpless feeling, where it’s like yes, I know this is a problem, I don’t know how to fix it, I don’t think anyo…

If Your Dog is Afraid, Avoid These Two Mistakes

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Pay attention to emotions and timing when training a fearful dog.

By Zazie Todd, PhD
When working with fearful dogs, an effective and commonly-used technique is desensitization and counter-conditioning. It’s a very powerful technique, but there are some technical aspects that you need to get right in order for it to work. This post looks at two common mistakes that people make, and how you can fix them. The process is about emotions, not behaviourIn a lot of dog training, our aim is to change the dog’s behaviour, typically by using positive reinforcement to make the behaviours we like happen more often. This is not the case in desensitization and counter-conditioning. Here, the aim is to change the dog’s emotions so that they become okay with and even like the thing they were previously scared of.Suppose you have a dog that is afraid of people they don’t know. One thing that might make a nice outcome is if your dog saw a stranger and previously they would have been afraid, but they now l…

The Writer's Pet: Grant Hayter-Menzies and Woo

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Grant Hayter-Menzies on his dog, Freddie, and his biography Woo, The Monkey Who Inspired Emily Carr.


No. 2 in the series The Writer's Pet by Zazie Todd, PhD

In Woo, the Monkey Who Inspired Emily Carr: A Biography, Grant Hayter-Menzies tells the story of legendary Canadian painter Emily Carr and her pet monkey Woo from a contemporary perspective. The book is described by Anny Scoones as, "Truthful and tender, a meticulously researched and fine reflection on the connection between art and animals."Hayter-Menzies told me about the book, his dog Freddie, and how his pet influences his writing.This page contains affiliate links.
What is your pet’s name?Freddie came to us from the BCSPCA, a rescue from a B.C. interior puppy mill, with the name Frederick. But we’ve always called him Freddie.  (He has cute nicknames that he’d be embarrassed to have made public!)Type of pet?Freddie is a purebred Pomeranian; for his size (17 lbs), that makes him a Spitz, the type of Pom favoured b…