Showing posts from May, 2020

New Initiative Aims to Improve Feline Wellbeing

International Cat Care wants to improve people’s understanding of cats’ mental health

By Zazie Todd, PhD

Cats’ wellbeing isn’t just about physical health; mental health is important too. A new initiative from International Cat Care aims to improve cats’ wellbeing. They have set up the iCatCare Feline Wellbeing Panel, an international group of 26 experts who can work together on feline behaviour and welfare issues.

Last year, a survey of experts published in Veterinary Record found that the biggest welfare concern for pet cats is behaviour issues because of a poor home environment. Cats have species-specific needs, such as what cats  need in their environment. When cats’ needs are not met, it is stressful for them. This in turn can lead to behavioural issues and also affect their physical health. Helping the public to understand the needs of cats will be one part of the panel’s work.

This page contains affiliate links.

Dr. Sarah Ellis, Chair of the new panel, says,
“When we talk about Fe…

Survey Shows Which Treatments Are Effective for Fireworks Fears in Dogs

Ad-hoc counter-conditioning and relaxation training work, say owners, but many other treatments don’t.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

Many dogs are afraid of the bangs and whistles from fireworks, up to half according to one study. A new, large survey by Dr. Stefanie Riemer (University of Bern) shows that treatments involving food and play are effective – but many other popular treatments are not rated as successful, according to people using them.

The standard recommended treatment for fireworks fears is desensitization and counter-conditioning (DSCC) using recordings of fireworks noises. The sounds are initially played very quietly at a level the dog is happy with, and over time the volume is gradually increased (the desensitization part). In addition, while the sounds are playing, the dog is offered very nice treats (the counter-conditioning part). In some cases, vets may also prescribe medication.

Outside of training sessions, of course, fireworks and other loud bangs will still happen, especi…

Wag Happy Dogs: A Photo Post (Part 2)

More gorgeous dogs pose with their copy of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy.

On Wednesday, I shared some beautiful photos of dogs posing with their copies of Wag. The photos were taken by members of the Wag Team, and they are one of the lovely things about my book launch. So here is a second set of gorgeous photos.

If you don’t yet have your copy of Wag, you can find your local Canadian indie here, order via your local US indie on Indiebound, support independent stores by buying on Bookshop (US only), or order via my Amazon store (affiliate link).

The top photo shows Jasmine Molloy's dogs, Logan and Maya.

“We got mail.”

“Puppy with Wag.”

“It’s here ! And the happy crew can’t wait for the reading”

“Juno is very excited that her new book has arrived. Hoping she lets me have a read as well.”

“We were very late to get our copy because I’d given my office address for delivery when I ordered, never knowing that the office would be closed due to Covid-19 when the book arrived.”

Wag Happy Dogs: A Photo Post (Part 1)

Gorgeous dogs pose with their copy of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy.

Back in early February when the world was normal, COVID-19 didn’t even have a name yet, and I was building up to an exciting book launch, I invited readers of Companion Animal Psychology to join my launch team.

Expecting around 20 or 30 people to join, I was amazed that 100 people completed my application form and signed up. One of the things they agreed to do was post a photo of their dog on social media with a copy of the book. For me, seeing these photos was one of the best things about my book launch, and so here I share a selection of those photos.

None of us knew that we would be launching Wag into a pandemic in which in-person events and media would have to be cancelled, bookstores would have to close, and Amazon would temporarily stop delivering books.

Despite all this, the Wag Team has been there to cheer me on and find ways to support and encourage me. They have done me proud and I am so gratefu…

Guest Post on The Difference Husbandry Training Makes

Today I have a guest post on husbandry over at the Academy for Dog Trainers blog.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

People often delay taking their dog to the vet because they know the dog will find it stressful. My post takes a look at husbandry training and how it can help prepare dogs to go the vet for both routine and more specialist visits. The post blends a personal story with what science tells us.

You can read it here: The difference husbandry training makes to veterinary visits.

Photo: visivastudio/Shutterstock.

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.

Useful links:
Check out what the Animal Book Club is readi…

Companion Animal Psychology News May 2020

Pet stress, dancers and dogs, and why two kittens are better than one... This month's Companion Animal Psychology news.

By Zazie Todd, PhD
My Favourites This Month “Why is one piece of advice so easy to follow, and the other so hard? We animal lovers who follow science-based training methods know the answer.” Don’t think about red (or touch your face) by Dr. Patricia McConnell.

"Understanding how we poison other animals and their homes is among the most important projects facing conservation, evolutionary biologists, and environmental scientists." Dr. Marc Bekoff on new research on how pollution affects the personality and cognition of fishes.

Pet stress has increased during COVID-19, bringing behaviour problems. This great piece by Genevieve Rajewski includes advice from VB Dr. Stephanie Borns-Weil of Tufts Vet.

“By choosing a breed based on its behaviour and health rather than looks, an owner is more likely to choose a cat suited to their lifestyle and needs.” Internat…

Flat Collars Risk Damage to Dogs’ Necks if They Pull or You Jerk the Leash

Don’t use leash jerks, and if your dog pulls on leash, walk them on a harness, as new research shows the potential pressure applied to a dog’s neck by the use of a flat collar.

New research published in the Veterinary Record finds that the pressure exerted on a dog’s neck by a flat collar when the dog pulls is enough to risk damage to the dog’s neck. The study, from scientists at Nottingham Trent University and the University of Nottingham, used a model to simulate the dog’s neck, and measured the forces applied when the leash was pulled. The study aimed to mimic the effects of a dog pulling consistently on a leash or the human tugging the leash (sometimes called a “leash correction”).

The results show the importance of teaching your dog to walk nicely on leash, using a harness if they do pull, and never using leash corrections.

The study tested a variety of eight different collars, including flat and padded webbing collars and leather collars, a rope slip leash, and a check chain.