Companion Animal Psychology News September 2020

Dog poop, how many mice cats prefer, and the things we’re afraid of in this month’s Companion Animal Psychology News. 

Companion Animal Psychology News September 2020

By Zazie Todd, PhD

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My favourites this month

“I realized that there are many lessons from my studies of antipredator behavior that have implications for how we humans make decisions.” Dr. Marc Bekoff interviews Dr. Daniel Blumstein in The nature of fear: why we’re all afraid of something.  

“In an off-the-cuff remark to the audience, he casually mentioned a study of wolves and dogs in the mountains of Ethiopia. The dogs, it seems, but not the wolves, regularly consumed human feces. The idea spun my head around.” Did eating human poop play a role in dogs’ evolution by Dr. Hal Herzog. 

“In most places, remaining natural habitats are squeezed between intensive agriculture and urban sprawl.” "’Extinction: The Facts’: Attenborough’s new documentary is surprisingly radical by Julia P.G. Jones.  

“These myths echo and reinforce negative beliefs we already have about poor people of color in the United States, and place blame for animals dying at the shelter on these individuals, instead of on our society.” Want to save shelter animals? Fight for social justice. Holly Ober speaks to sociologist Dr. Katja M. Guenther.

“I’d owned rodents before, so I knew some of the basics, but I quickly discovered that a chinchilla is not a hamster or a guinea pig.” Chinchilla challenge: are they right for you? by Linda Lombardi at Fear Free Happy Homes. 

 “In fairy tales animals are always talking. Even when they are dead, they are talking.” All the better to hear you with by Sabrina Orah Mark in the Paris Review.

“In the end, recalls are an invaluable tool that give our dogs freedom and keep them safe, while also being behaviorally expensive. “ How to ruin your dog’s recall by Glenna Cupp. 

“Before you get too excited about the possibility of your cat doing your algebra homework, keep in mind that it might be better to assess cats’ “number sense” in a task that is more natural to them. That’s exactly what folks from two universities in Mexico did.” Outnumbered by Dr. Mikel Delgado. 

“If you’re so sure the behavior is motivated by revenge then you will overlook some obvious and critical clues behind the true trigger.” Do cats deliberately misbehave by Pam Johnson-Bennett.

“What’s it like to be a dog? What do they see, feel, think and smell? Do they love us as we do them?“ To be a dog with guest Dr. Alexandra Horowitz on the One of the Family podcast with Nicky Campbell.  

Animal Book Club

This month, the Animal Book Club is reading Decoding Your Cat: The Ultimate Experts Explain Common Cat Behaviors and Reveal How to Prevent or Change Unwanted Ones, the new book from the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. This book is full of tips on how to care for your cat and resolve behaviour issues.

Animal Book Club: Decoding Your Cat

You can find this and all the book club choices in my Amazon store:

New Tees and Promo Code

There are some cool new tees for you to take a peek at in the Companion Animal Psychology merch store. Get 10% off with promo code WEEKEND10 until midnight on Monday 21st September.

Positive reinforcement works: CAP merch

The beautiful Companion Animal Psychology logo tees remain a firm favourite. Did you know this and many other designs are now available as a zip hoodie and also on a fanny pack? 

And do you like to take sniffaris with your dog? We also have tees, hoodies, and sweatshirts featuring my definition of a snifarri in a wide range of colours.  

A portion of all proceeds (typically 20%) is donated to the BC SPCA Maple Ridge. 

Support Me on Ko-Fi

A great big thank you to Dr. Jill Bradshaw and one anonymous person for their support this past month. You made my day! I really appreciate your support.

Ko-fi supporters help keep Companion Animal Psychology going! Without your support I would not be able to keep bringing you posts about how to care for dogs and cats. You can support me with a one-off or monthly donation on my Ko-fi page:

Here at Companion Animal Psychology

I am very excited to introduce a new series called The Writer’s Pet about contemporary writers and their companion animals. The first in the series is award-winning writer Aislinn Hunter with her latest novel, The Certainties, and her three gorgeous dogs. Be sure to check it out, and find me on Twitter for a chance to win a copy of the book.   

Over at my Psychology Today blog Fellow Creatures, I wrote Animals Aren’t It: Pets, Pronouns, and Choices. It’s been interesting to hear people’s views on this piece! 

And as the pandemic continues, researchers are already finding out about how covid-19 is affecting our relationship with pets.  

This month, I was quoted on how to help your cat go to the vet in this piece about comedy haircuts that cats received at the vet (in French). And I talked to MEL magazine about whether dogs are really learning how to talk

As well, I chatted with Patricia Tirrell and Denise O'Moore of Books, Barks, and Banter about my book, Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy. If you missed it, you can still watch on Facebook. Thanks to Patricia, Denise, and everyone in the group for making it such a fun discussion of Wag.

The new version of blogger continues to have many bugs that are causing issues. I report bugs as I find them, and some have been fixed at least. Notably, the search option works again, so if you're looking for old posts you can find them once more. 

Animals in Art

This month’s animals in art is this incredible raven rattle which dates from the 19th century. It is from Skidegate in BC, Canada, where it was made by a Tsimshian artist, although the artist is not named. It is in the collection of The Met, where it is currently on view, and you can read all about the symbolism of the piece in the online catalogue entry

Tsimshian rave rattle: Animals in Art

If you like this piece, I highly recommend a trip to the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver, some time in the future when travel is possible again. 

Be kind – including to yourself. And take care! 


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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