Companion Animal Psychology News January 2021

Dogs and optical illusions, cat communication, and wildlife photos... this month's Companion Animal Psychology News.

Companion Animal Psychology News January 2021

By Zazie Todd, PhD

This page contains affiliate links which means I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases at no cost to you.

My favourites this month

“We had this crazy question of: Could you give a dog an illusion, and would they be able to see it?”  A dog’s view of illusion susceptibility by Catherine Offord. 

“All in all, data clearly show that pets aren't panaceas for lifting one's spirits.” Are emotional support dogs always a cure all by Dr. Marc Bekoff. 

“The discovery is “extremely concerning” for water insects, and the fish and birds that depend on them, the scientists said, who expect significant environmental damage is being done.” Pet flea treatments poisoning rivers across England, scientists find by  Damian Carrington  

"When the virus has infected our cells, this can have a knock-on effect on various systems within the body, which results in odours being released through our skin and breath." Sam Wollaston on dogs sniffing out covid-19.

“In a new study, my colleagues and I have shown breeding for these exaggerated features may negatively affect animals’ ability to effectively communicate and express themselves.” Cats with round faces and big eyes might be cute, but you can’t tell how they’re feeling – new research by Dr. Lauren Finka. 

“The impact on both cats and dogs can be severe if the relationship is not positive.” Pheromone use in multi-species homes by Liz Waring at International Cat Care’s Spotlight on Science.  

“Just because it’s a natural behavior doesn’t mean it’s a good thing: for indoor cats, especially in multi-cat homes, it’s probably a sign of stress.” Study gives clues to causes of spraying by Linda Lombardi at Fear Free Happy Homes.

“First, though, Winston is too big. The laboratory drapery can conceal his long beautiful face or his long beautiful tail, but not both. The researchers need to keep him from seeing something they don’t want him to see until they’re ready for him to see it.” The new science of our ancient bond with dogs by Jeff MacGregor with photos by Daniel Dorsa. 

“Keeping dog-loving strangers away from dogs isn’t for the feint of heart.” Unwanted advances – the human kind by Patricia McConnell PhD. 

“French archaeologists have hailed the “exceptional” discovery of the 2,000-year-old remains of a child buried with animal offerings and what appears to have been a pet dog.” 2,000-year-old remains of infant and dog uncovered in France by Kim Willsher.  

“Now, when Timber jumps up on the bed, it can mean one of two things.” “When Timber talks, I’m all ears”: How to empower your dog to choose for themselves by Kristi Benson.   

Wildlife photographer of the year awards – people’s choice. You can vote for your favourite wildlife photo of the year until Tues 2nd Feb.

Discount on Tees

I used to love when I said to Bodger anything with the word 'walk' or 'walkies' in it and he would get so excited. Time for walkies was the best time of the day! Get 10% off this and all Companion Animal Psychology merch with promo code WALKIES valid until midnight PT on Monday 18th Jan. 

Burgundy sweatshirt that says Time for walkies! Companion Animal Psychology merch
Time for Walkies tees, sweatshirts and hoodies. Pictured, women's slouchy sweatshirt (low stock).

A portion of all proceeds goes to the BC SPCA Maple Ridge.

Time for Walkies tee (Companion Animal Psychology merch) pictured with jeans and belt
Time for Walkies Women's Comfort tee in navy

The Companion Animal Psychology logo tees and hoodies remain a firm favourite. 

Support me on Ko-fi

This month, I’d like to say a big thank you to Jill Bradshaw, nonsibicunctis, Melinda Jacobson, and 6 anonymous people for their support. You are amazing! 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.

Here on Companion Animal Psychology

Since this is my first newsletter in two months, there is a lot to catch up on. While some things did not go to plan last month (including that 33 hour power outage), everything seems better now that the days are starting to get longer. I’m writing this at sunset and as I look out of the window at all the trees, I see little glimpses of orange sky between the trunks and branches.

First, the big news: I am incredibly honoured that Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy is short-listed in two categories in the Dog Writer’s Association of America awards (Book – Behaviour, Health or General Care; and the Fear Free Enrichment Award). The awards will be broadcast live on the DWAA Facebook page on 14th Feb.

I added up recently that I did 78 interviews with media last year. Recently, I was quoted in this story for MEL magazine on what to do if your dog doesn’t like going to the vet. I spoke to Fear Free Happy Homes about how we benefit if we put down the phone to connect with your dog

I spoke to the Washington Post about how it’s time to start preparing Fluffy and Fido for post-pandemic life. And I had a lot of fun appearing on the Greg Cote show. They said I got combative when Greg tried to say his dog was dumb!   

Four books recently featured in The Writer's Pet; Companion Animal Psychology News

Over at my Psychology Today blog Fellow Creatures, I wrote about 5 reasons dog training is increasingly shifting positive and about the downsides to having a pet.  

There have been some incredible writers in The Writer’s Pet series. Don’t miss Nicole Blades and her book Have You Met Nora, Jenni Keer and The Unlikely Life of Maisie Meadows, Maureen Fergus and Glory on Ice: A Vampire Hockey Story, and Jessica Redland and the Hedgehog Hollow series. As well as hearing about the books, I love seeing the photos of authors' pets and that it gives us a little window into their writing lives.

I spoke with Malena DeMartini about her new book, Separation Anxiety in Dogs. Read it to find out more about how separation anxiety is fixable. And I spoke with Sassafras Lowrey about her latest book, Chew This Journal which provides lots of fun activities to do with your dog.

I also spoke with Kristi Benson about the making of the delightful video, The Prince and the Pea. If you want to see a fairy tale enacted by dogs, this one’s for you. You can watch the video and then read the post.

As is tradition, I rounded out last year by sharing the most popular posts. And this year, I looked at which were the top ten books on Companion Animal Psychology in 2020. It turns out to be a mix of old and new favourites!  

A purple notebook, burgundy pen, and a red-and-white tulip flower
My new notebook.

Over the next few months, I’ll continue to work on my next book, which is about cats. And I hope that sometime this year we will find the right dog to join our family and keep us and our two cats company.

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions but I did, however, treat myself to a new notebook. There’s always something exciting about starting a new notebook, and thinking about the ideas and notes that will go in there…

Animals in Art

This month's Animals in Art is this bull terrier crafted from pine. It dates from around 1875/1900, and the artist is unknown.

A bull terrier made from pine. This month's Animals in Art, Companion Animal Psychology News

It is in the collection of the Art Institute of  Chicago. The museum is currently closed because of the pandemic, but this bull terrier is on display in the Arts of the Americas collection, gallery 227.

Happy New Year, and all the very best for 2021! Stay safe and well,


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 and also has a column at Psychology Today. Todd lives in Maple Ridge, BC, with her husband, one dog, and two cats. 

Useful links:

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. As an Etsy affiliate and Marks and Spencer affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Follow me!

Support me