Companion Animal Psychology News January 2020

Parrots helping their peers, wolf puppies playing fetch, and getting a best friend late in life... this month's news from Companion Animal Psychology.

Companion Animal Psychology News January 2020

My favourites this month

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Puzzle feeders “help meals last longer, increase physical exertion needed to obtain food, and provide a fun ‘brain-teaser’ for your cat!” International Cat Care on food puzzles for cats.

 “African grey parrots help their peers complete tasks despite no immediate benefit to themselves, researchers have found, in the first study to show that birds display such apparently “selfless” behaviour.” Feathered friends: study shows ‘selfless’ parrots helping peers by Nicola Davis.

“Left alone, a human corpse will soon be feasted upon by maggots. Also, depending on the circumstances, by a cat.” New compelling evidence that your cat might eat your corpse by Karin Brulliard. For once – at least at time of writing – the comments are worth a read too.

“Learning how to better recognize the signs of fear, anxiety, stress and frustration and how to apply simple, practical means to prevent and decrease them are crucial to creating positive change in animal shelters—and that’s what the Fear Free Shelter Program is all about.” Taking the fear out of sheltering by Brenda Griffin DVM.

“Truly, there’s no need to imagine yourself without a best friend as you age.” Am I too old to get a dog? by Carol Lea Benjamin at Fear Free Happy Homes.

“When Timber is active, unsettled, unmanageable, and annoying, he isn’t communicating anything in the typical way we think of communication…he’s not telling me anything on purpose. But his behaviour speaks volumes: he still has a pocket full of ya-yas.” First, meet their needs by Kristi Benson.

“Is ultrasonic noise aversive to dogs? Of course. This is the basis upon which these products work.” Are ultrasonic dog training devices really safe and humane? By Dr. Jessica Pierce.

“2020 is here, and while there has been some progress in animal-human interactions and the ways in which animal-human conflicts are resolved, there's still tons of work to be done to even the playing field.” 2020 hindsight demands changes in human-animal interactions by Dr. Marc Bekoff.

“As the pups grew, the scientists noticed that some would retrieve a tennis ball thrown across the room.” Watch wolf puppies stun scientists by playing fetch by David Grimm.

“Ask lots of questions, demand answers and yes, trust your gut.” Transparency in animal sheltering and rescues by Kate LaSala.

And in this podcast, Nick Benger speaks to Natalie Light and Steve Goodall about their new podcast, Barks from the Bookshelf.

Animal Book Club

The Animal Book Club takes a break in January. I'm taking the time to catch up on reading some fiction. Next month we will be reading Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert Sapolsky. You can find all of the books (and lots of other suggestions) in the Animal Book Club store

Upcoming Events

Wag Book Signing

I will be signing copies of my book, Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy, at Bosley’s in Maple Ridge on 14th March 2020 between 2 and 4pm. You can drop by, buy a copy of the book, and I will sign it for you. I would love to see you there!

Bosley’s is at 22745 Dewdney Trunk Road, Maple Ridge, and you can find more information on the event page.

Wag Webinar and Book Giveaway

I will be presenting a webinar for the Pet Professional Guild on Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy on 6th Feb 2020 from 2-3pm Eastern time (that’s 7pm UK time and 11am Pacific time). I will be talking about the role of emotions in dogs’ welfare, with plenty of practical tips to use yourself (or with clients). A recording will be sent out after the event.

The PPG will be giving away 3 copies of Wag. Everyone who registers and attends the live event will be entered in to the draw.

The webinar is open to everyone, whether or not you are PPG member, and CEUs are available. More information and to sign up here:

Companion Animal Psychology Merch

10% off all merch with this link until 21st Jan: This includes tees, hoodies, tote bags, stickers, and mugs.

The discount is applied automatically or use pr code WINTERSNOW.

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’d like to say a huge thank you to Jane Appleton and the three anonymous people who bought me coffees. I really appreciate it, and wish you the very best for 2020! Your support really makes a difference.

Here at Companion Animal Psychology

I was thrilled to read that Companion Animal Psychology is Patricia McConnell’s favourite animal–related blog. I love Dr. McConnell’s blog so the feeling is mutual!

I was quoted in this article by Linda Lombardi on the Fear Free website about how owner perceptions influence training methods. And I was interviewed by Ian Lecklitner for this MEL magazine article, Does my dog know how wasted I am?

This month I was thrilled to interview Prof. Clive Wynne about his new book, Dog Is Love: Why and How Your Dog Loves You. He told me, "The dog is a highly social living being that needs to have company or else it’s going to be in psychological distress." If you haven’t seen it yet, I’m sure you will enjoy the interview (and the book!).

On the theme of books, I shared my winter reading list of the books I’ve been reading lately. If you’ve read any of them, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

I also published a fantastic guest post by Nickala Squire: Why you should never train a dog to come when called using a shock collar. If you’re looking for tips to teach your dog to come when called, or want to understand why a shock collar isn’t the best way to teach recall, take a look.

Over at my Psychology Today blog, Fellow Creatures, I wrote about what I’d like to see for dogs and cats during the 2020s as well as 10 tips to integrate dog training into everyday life.

Pets in Art

This month's pets in art is Winter: Cat on a Cushion, painted by Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen. I especially like the cat's eyes and the tufts of ear hair.

Winter: Cat on a Cushion; Companion Animal Psychology News

It's a lithograph in 6 colours and dates from 1909. It's in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, and there's only a little more information in its online entry.

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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