Showing posts from 2020

Fellow Creatures: Is My Dog Happy?

The number 1 question dog owners want to ask.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

I have a new post at my Psychology Today blog Fellow Creatures, Is my dog happy? How dogs' body language is a guide. According to Dogs Trust, this is the top question people would like to ask their dog if the dog could talk.

The post looks at how scientists have developed ways to study dogs' body language, and what they have found when looking at dogs in two different contexts - at the dog park and at the veterinarian. This includes some of the subtle signs of stress that dog owners may miss.

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 ca…

Companion Animal Psychology News February 2020

Shetland Sheepdogs on Shetland, dressing up pets, and ant farms... this month's Companion Animal Psychology News

My favourites this month “It is farming – they are milking the animals, moving them from high to low pastures and building shelters for them when there’s not enough protection.” Ants run secret farms on English oak trees by Patrick Barkham.

“I can’t outrun Fame, and so the only way I can actually tell her where to go is to have skills trained to a higher level" The queens of agility by Bryan Armen Graham Don’t miss the video!

 “Take, for instance, the situation Paula G. found herself in when her silver shaded Persian cat, Truffle, was recovering from bladder stone surgery. When the vet tech brought Truffle out from the back room, the cat was decked out in a onesie.” Dressing up your pet may be surprisingly useful by Janiss Garza at Fear Free Happy Homes.

“No simple, one-size-fits all approach is likely to be optimal for everyone, whether it is traditional neutering…


Bodger 13 Jan 2009 – 14 Feb 2020

On Friday we had to say goodbye to our beautiful Bodger. He was diagnosed with cancer last September. He came into our lives aged two and a half, a whirlwind of excitement, anxiety, and affection. He was a delightful dog, so playful and full of happiness, and we are heartbroken.

These photos are from his shoot with Bad Monkey Photography late last year.

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 reading this monthGet Companion Animal Psychology merchSupport me on Ko-fiVisit my Amazon store

Study Shows Value of Behavioural Services in Veterinary Medicine

Interesting findings from a study of Irish vets’ and vet nurses’ understanding of behaviour problems.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

Canine science has grown enormously as a discipline, and we know more about canine behaviour than ever before (even if there’s still a lot to learn). One of the biggest changes has been in approaches to dog training. A study published last year by Emma Shalvey (University College Dublin) et al. looks at how vets and vet nurses in Ireland have kept up with the changes.

It is now recognized that reward-based methods are the best way to train dogs, and dog training methods based on ideas of dominance and balance  are out-dated and influence people to use positive punishment. Research shows there are risks to animal welfare when aversive methods are used.

The results of the study show that both veterinarians and veterinary nurses [vet techs] would welcome continued professional development on behaviour issues. It also shows many opportunities for vets to increase their c…

Invitation to Join The Wag Team

Your invitation to join The Wag Team with behind-the-scenes access to my book launch info.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

I am only a few weeks away from the launch of my book, Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy (more info here). It’s getting very exciting!

Thank you but no more applications are being accepted. If you signed up, check your email for the confirmation (if you don't see it, don't forget to look in  your spam folder).

Would you like to be one of the special people who is part of the book launch? I am recruiting people to help support me launch my book, Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy.

If you want to join The Wag Team, you must:
Be a fan of my blog, Companion Animal PsychologyPreorder a copy of the book (or reserve a copy from your local library) to have by the launch date (10th March in Canada and the US, 12th March in the UK)Post a photo of the book with your dog (or a friend’s dog, with their permission) on your social media channelsWrite an honest review of t…

Dog Training Methods Affect Attachment to the Owner

Dogs trained with aversive methods are less likely to show a ‘secure base’ effect, study shows.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

When people use aversive methods to train dogs, it is associated with risks to the dog’s welfare,  including fear, stress, and aggression (Ziv 2017; Guilherme-Fernandes et al 2017). Research published last year in Applied Animal Behaviour Science by Dr. Ana Vieira de Castro (Universidade do Porto) suggests it also affects the dog’s relationship with their owner.

Aversive dog training methods are those based on positive punishment and negative reinforcement.  The schools in this study that were classed as using aversive methods often used jerks on the leash, yelling at the dog, hitting the dog (all examples of positive punishment), or pulling the dog’s leash to choke their collar until they sat down (negative reinforcement).

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Reward-based methods (positive reinforcement and negative punishment) are recommended by many dog training and veterin…

Companion Animal Psychology Book Club February 2020

"Sapolsky has created an immensely readable, often hilarious romp through the multiple worlds of psychology, primatology, sociology and neurobiology to explain why we behave the way we do. It is hands-down one of the best books I’ve read in years. I loved it."— Dina Temple-Raston, The Washington Post

By Zazie Todd, PhD

The Animal Book Club is back, and this month we are reading Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert Sapolsky.

From the back cover,
“Robert M. Sapolsky’s book is one of the most dazzling tours d’horizon of the science of human behaviour ever attempted. Moving across a range of disciplines, Sapolsky – a neuroscientist and primatologist – uncovers the hidden story of our actions. Undertaking some of our thorniest questions relating to tribalism and xenophobia, hierarchy and competition, and war and peace, Behave is a towering achievement – a majestic synthesis of cutting-edge research and a heroic exploration of why we ultimately do the thing…

PPG webinar on Thursday

Details of my upcoming webinar on Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy (with the chance to win a copy of the book).

By Zazie Todd, PhD

On Thursday 6th Feb, from 2 - 3pm Eastern time (11am - 12 noon Pacific; 7 - 8pm UK time), I will be presenting a webinar for the Pet Professional Guild entitled Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy. You can come and get the scoop on my book before it is published, and learn some of my favourite tips for making dogs happy - as well as what science tells us about them.

Everyone who registers and attends live will be entered into a draw for the chance to win a copy of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy. CEUs are also available.

Wag has a foreword by Dr. Marty Becker and endorsements from well-known canine scientists, dog trainers, and best-selling authors.

The webinar is open to all, whether or not you are a member of the Pet Professional Guild. You can find more information and register here. I hope to see you there!

Zazie Todd, PhD, is t…

Interview with Lauren Finka about The Cat Personality Test

"There probably are a lot of cats that are living with us in our homes as pets that might prefer us to treat them more as an expensive lodger than a very attractive companion."

An interview with Dr. Lauren Finka about her great new book, The Cat Personality Test: How well do you really know your cat?, which is a lot of fun and packed with useful information for cat owners.

This page contains affiliate links.

Zazie: Why did you decide to write The Cat Personality Test?

Lauren: I was actually approached by Penguin Random House mid last year, and they had the idea that they wanted to basically create a book that was similar to The Cat IQ test, which came out a couple of years ago now. That did very well, so the idea was to create something in a similar format that would focus on personality. They found me, I think, because I’d written some popular articles about cat personality on the internet. I think they basically googled. They wanted a science basis so they thought it would be…

Three Long Term Plans to Make for Your Pet

Every pet owner needs to think about these three things in advance.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

We love our pets, but sometimes it’s hard to think about the potential risks they might face. Here are three things it’s a good idea to think about and plan for, just in case.

1. Financial planning for vet treatment Everyone knows that vet costs come with owning a pet. There are vaccinations, flea treatments, de-wormers, the costs of spay/neuter, and any necessary dental treatment. But we also have to be prepared for the costs of treatment should our pet become unwell. Unfortunately, this is sometimes very expensive.

One recent study asked people how much they would be willing to pay for a vaccine that would stop their dog from dying from canine influenza (Carlson et al 2019). The conclusion was that the statistical value of a dog’s life is around $10,000 (US – approximately C$13k or £7.6k). In another survey, 52% of dog owners and 42% of cat owners said they would spend “whatever it takes” to keep t…