Companion Animal Psychology News March 2020

Resources on COVID-19 and your pet, dogs in gilded cages, playing with your cat, plus other animal news this month.

Companion Animal Psychology News March 2020


By Zazie Todd, PhD

COVID-19 is an unprecedented emergency, and this month’s newsletter includes several related posts. Bear in the mind that the situation changes often, and is different in different places, so always check local advice. But our pets still need us, so there are some non-COVID-19 stories in my favourites list too. Wherever you are, I hope you and yours are staying safe and keeping well, and send my gratitude to all the health professionals, key workers, grocery store staff, and everyone else on the front-line in this pandemic.

My favourites this month

The WSAVA has a set of resources for both veterinarians and pet owners which they are updating regularly.

Dr. Sam Gaines of the RSPCA has some guidelines on how to care for your pet when social distancing or staying at home due to coronavirus.

PDSA has a Q&A with vets’ advice on how to care for your dog or cat while self-isolating.

If you have a puppy, what are the best ways to socialize them right now? Jessica Ring at My Fantastic Friend has put together this fantastic resource, Time is of the essence: puppy socialization during a pandemic.

“The obvious first strategy will be for your cat to jump onto your lap, look lovingly at you and miaow faintly to demonstrate his level of hunger and desire for food.” How to work from home with a cat by International Cat Care.

If you’re at home with your cat, it’s a great time to practice your interactive play skills. Pam Johnson-Bennett has some tips.

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“People were deeply worried and nervous, not only about how they and other humans would fare but also about how their and others' dogs would do without us.“ If you don’t mind reading about a doomsday scenario for us, Dr. Marc Bekoff has been considering how dogs would do in a world without us.

If you’re looking for some humour instead, enjoy quarantine tips from my cat by Nikki Palumbo.

“Why do some people love pets while others want nothing to do with our four-legged friends?” Dr. Hal Herzog on the odd demography of loving pets: sex, money, and race.

“What about the millions of dogs in loving homes, with access to food, water, shelter, and regular veterinary care, but who are otherwise ignored and emotionally neglected?” Dogs in gilded cages: surviving but not thriving is a thoughtful post from Mary Angilly on Dr. Marc Bekoff’s blog.

Dog Dental Care: Something to sink your teeth into. Kristi Benson interviews veterinarian Dr. Rachel Szumel.

“It isn’t until the latter stages of the disease that the underlying pathology in the brain is apparent. Therefore many cats will go without a clinical finding and valuable medical information is lost.” The sad truths about feline cognitive dysfunction by Ingrid R Niesman PhD at The Conscious Cat.

“Dog breeders need to take action to improve canine mental health, scientists have said, after research found almost three-quarters of pet dogs have highly problematic anxiety-related behaviour.” Breeders urged to act over high levels of anxiety in pets by Nicola K S Davis.

Animal Book Club

This month, the Animal Book Club is reading The Animal’s Companion: A 26,000 Year Love Story by Jacky Coliss Harvey. It’s a fascinating account of the history of our relationship with pets, complete with some wonderful photos of works of art showing pets or tamed (captive) animals through the ages.

The Animal's Companion


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This month I want to say a huge thank you to Jane Appleton, Lee, and two anonymous donors for your support and lovely messages. Now more than ever, it makes a real difference.

Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy

On 10th March, my book Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy was published. Having worked on this for years, it is so exciting that it is finally out there in the world. At the same time, it is distressing how much the world has changed in this short time and how so many people now are hurting.

Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy

Needless to say, a number of book events (TV and radio, book signings, and talks) are cancelled or postponed. Hopefully some can be rescheduled in future and I will let you know when that’s the case. Of course, it’s far more important that everyone can stay safe and well at home.

In the meantime, there has still been some wonderful media coverage of Wag, which might help take your mind off the current news cycle:
How to train your dog interview with Global National (video)
Dogs and their people: a custom extract from Wag in The Psychologist
Sniffaris, training and treats: How to have a happier dog. Victoria Young interviewed me for The Telegraph
Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy – I was interviewed by Dr. Marc Bekoff for his Psychology Today blog.
A wag for life: expert animal psychologist reveals secrets to a happy dog. Maggie Ritchie interviewed me for The Sunday Post
Interview with Zazie Todd by the Academy for Dog Trainers
Canine Education for Humans podcast
Barks from the Bookshelf podcast
Believe in Dog podcast

I want to say a special thank you to my launch team for sharing such gorgeous photos of their dogs with the book!


Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy is available at all good bookstores and you can also find it at Walmart and Save On. As well, if you are in Maple Ridge, you can pick up a copy at Bosleys. You can read what people are saying about Wag here.

If you’ve read Wag, please consider writing an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads. Thank you!

Here at Companion Animal Psychology

On my Psychology Today blog Fellow Creatures, I wrote COVID-19 and planning for your pet on the day the WHO declared it to be a pandemic. I’ve since been checking the links regularly and it was last updated on 20th March.

Also over at Psych Today, I wrote Is my dog happy? How dogs’ body language is a guide.

I was quoted in an article about dogs in yards: are they happy by Linda Lombardi at Fear Free Happy Homes. I was also interviewed by Mel magazine about what does my dog think its name is? 

And I published my list of the pet people to follow in 2020 – please be sure to leave your suggestions in a comment, and thank you to everyone who has already done so.

Teespring is still operational, and you can get 10% off merch with this link.

If you have suggestions for things I can do to help here at Companion Animal Psychology, please let me know. I hope you and yours are safe and well.

Pets in Art

This month’s pets in art is this wonderful prowling cat by Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen (1859-1923).

Prowling cat by Steinlen; Companion Animal Psychology news


It’s in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, but not currently on view. Their catalogue entry says, “For Steinlen, the curvilinear form of the cat was the animal equivalent to the art nouveau lily. As well as the form and line, Steinlen could capture the way of the cat - its mood and motion - through the flick of a tail or watchful stare.”

Stay safe, everyone!

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.

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