Companion Animal Psychology News November 2020

Ancient dogs and humans, orphaned kitties, and lessons from culturing microbes... this month's CAP news.

Companion Animal Psychology News November 2020

By Zazie Todd, PhD

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My favourites this month

“Why does my dog… [insert naughty behavior here]? Trainers get asked this question all the time.” Naughtiness in dogs: why they do it and why we love it by Maria Karunungan over at The Academy for Dog Trainers. 

“When the researchers compared their dog DNA with modern and ancient wolf DNA, they got another surprise” How dogs tracked their humans across the ancient world by David Grimm.  

“She’s attentive to small details – one thing she’ll always object to is a person who is looking at their phone. Nevertheless, she has never shown any sign of being bothered by face masks.” Wearing a different face? How dogs react to masks by Linda Lombardi at Fear Free Happy Homes. 

End of life decisions for animals. Dr. Bidda Jones speaks to Dr. Larry Vogelnest, Dr. Emma Whiston, Peter Bennett, Dr. Kat Littlewood, and Dr. Martin F. Lenz about the factors involved in end of life decisions for animals including pets, zoo, and farm animals. (It’s followed by a session on writing from the perspective of animals which sadly I haven’t had time to listen to yet).

“Bear in mind he has been through a lot to get to you. “ Decompression: 9 ways to help your new rescue dog adjust to a new life by Kate LaSala. 

“Like a lot of folks, I've been trying to come up with safe activities to do with my own dog during the pandemic.” A how-to on DIY suspended scentwork by Glenna Cupp.  

"There’s actually a beautiful thing about walks: they offer our puppies a rich opportunity to exercise their minds." How to walk your puppy by Vanessa Charbonneau on The Academy for Dog trainers blog. 

“I found this study really interesting because it takes our understanding of cats and their abilities a bit deeper.” Emotion recognition in cats by Dr. Naomi Kasbaoui for International Cat Care’s Spotlight on Science. 

“Because there are so many orphaned kittens being cared for by rescue groups, this is an excellent opportunity to research the impact of early maternal separation, without having to deliberately separate any kittens from their mothers.“ In Does being orphaned increase stress in kittens? Dr. Mikel Delgado explains some of her own new research.  

“Our understanding of microbiologists’ fascination with unculturable bacteria offers key lessons that are beneficial to considering the long-standing inequities and very slow progress in the task of adequately diversifying academic environments—or, as Stewart put it in describing unculturable bacteria, “the culturing efforts of the last 2 centuries had managed to replicate permissive growth conditions for only a small subset of the total bacterial diversity””  Lessons from microbes: What can we learn about equity from unculturable bacteria? by Dr. Beronda l. Montgomery. 

Animal Book Club

The Animal Book Club is taking this month off, but we'll be back next month. See the page for a sneak peek of next month's book.


It’s the run-up to the holidays! Companion Animal Psychology tees and hoodies make the perfect gift for dog and cat lovers… and yourself! If you want to get ahead of your holiday shopping, you can get 10% off our Reward the dog/reward the cat tees (and all other merch including logo tees) with promo code STORMY10, valid until midnight PT on Monday 16th November.

Companion Animal Psychology merch - 3 bright tees pictured in blue, pink, and purple. More in Companion Animal Psychology news

Pictured: Happy dogs make me smile tee in true pink (women's comfort tee) and tahiti blue (women's boyfriend tee); Reward the dog in purple rush (women's boyfriend tee).

Look out too for a special limited-edition festive design that will drop just in time for Black Friday. 

A portion of the proceeds from all Companion Animal Psychology merch goes to the BC SPCA Maple Ridge.

I’d love to see you showing off your merch – use hashtag #CAPmerch on social media.

Support Me on Ko-Fi

This month, I’d like to say a big thank you to Dr. Jill Bradshaw, Anne-Marie Reed, Sl Winkler, kazukami, and Natalie and Tara for their support. You are awesome! Thank you!!

Ko-fi support helps me to keep bringing new posts on Companion Animal Psychology. You can support me with a one-off or monthly donation on my Ko-fi page: Ko-fi does not charge fees.

All Ko-fi supporters get a discount on Companion Animal Psychology merch. Check the Ko-fi page for your promo code.

I especially want to thank my monthly supporters who are there for me through thick and thin. Your faith in me means the world. Anyone who is a monthly supporter as of the morning of 29 Nov 2020 will get an acknowledgement in my next book (unless you have chosen to remain anonymous, of course). If you want to check this with me please feel free to email me on companimalpsych at gmail dot com. (After 29 Nov I expect I will still be able to add people but for now that's the date that's guaranteed).

Here at Companion Animal Psychology

Recently, I recorded an interview for Polish TV station Tvn to mark the publication of the Polish edition of WAG (Rozmerdane). I’m quoted in Sassafras Lowrey’s thoughtful piece for Modern Dog that asks do we crate too much? I also spoke to Wendy Lyons Sunshine about how to parent a puppy for Inside Your Dog’s Mind magazine. Both magazines are on store shelves now. 

I was on the Tom Swarbrick show on LBC radio a couple of weeks ago, and El Confidencial has quoted me in a piece on how allowing dogs to smell helps them think positively (in Spanish).  

Busy times here! I’ve been working very hard on my next book, which is about cats. One thing I’ve been loving is the chance to interview experts in cat behavior to get their perspective on feline science and the best things we can do for our cats. 

One thing I’m not loving is just how much work a book is. Of course, I knew this already, thanks to writing WAG, but it doesn’t seem any easier this time around. If I seem a bit quiet over the next few weeks, it’s because I feel like I’ve got steam coming out of my ears. Please continue to support the blog by sharing posts, buying merch, or via Ko-fi! Thank you.

Despite all this, I’ve written about why people pick pedigree cats with flat faces and over at Psych Today, I looked at some research on how people make decisions about whether to use psychoactive medications with their dog.  

And there have been three parts of The Writer’s Pet, my new series that gives us a chance to get to know contemporary authors and their canine or feline friends. I don’t know about you, but I can look at cat and dog photos all day!

First up, Canadian writer Jen Gilroy shared her beautiful dog Floppy Ears and told me about her latest heart-warming romance, A Wish in Irish Falls. British author (and psychologist) Philippa East showed us how her cat likes to sprawl across the keyboard (not conducive to writing!) and told us about her thriller, Little White Lies.   

And British author Roz Watkins shared her dog and cats, and the latest in her DI Meg Dalton series, Cut to the Bone, set in England’s Peak District and with a clicker-trained pig as part of the cast of characters.  

Animals in Art

This month’s animal in art is this drawing of “Le Chat” or the cat at the window. It’s by Jean-Fran├žois Millet and dates from 1857-58. It tells the story of a 17th-century fable by La Fontaine called “The Cat Who Became a Woman.” A man loved his cat so much he had her turned into a woman so they could get married…but she could not help but chase mice. The moral of the story is that “the truth will out.” 

Le Chat by Millet: Animals in Art, Companion Animal Psychology News

The image is open domain and in the collection of the Getty museum where you can also read more about the story it is based on.

In case you’re interested, Chagall also illustrated this fable. You can see his artwork here via the Tate gallery in London. (Not open access so I can’t reproduce it here).

Stay safe and take care!


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