Companion Animal Psychology News February 2021

Itchy dogs, cats and catnip, and pups eating peanut butter... This month's Companion Animal Psychology news.

Companion Animal Psychology News February 2021

By Zazie Todd, PhD

My favourites this month

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Itchy dog or stressed dog? by Dr. Naomi Harvey, BARKS from the Guild Jan 2021. A free subscription is needed to read it.  

From domination to cooperation. Allison Wells shares the story of how a rescue dog changed her life  

“The ecstatic rush might not be the only reason felines flock to these plants, new research suggests.“ Your cat isn’t just getting high off catnip by Katherine J. Wu. 

Lost in translation: has our selective breeding of cats limited their ability to communicate? Dr. Lauren Finka unpacks her latest research, via International Cat Care.  

"Kids can learn a lot from their relationships with dogs; instead of teaching them to use force and fear to control other beings, we can use positive methods to teach our children that relationships with those we love should be based in mutual respect, listening and care." Some tips on dogs and children from Dr. Andrea V. Breen.  

“These were the world’s first dogs.” Ice Age Siberian hunters may have domesticated dogs 23,000 years ago, by David Grimm. 

“Consequently, we were working with dogs with similar issues with recall, as opposed to having ‘easier’ dogs in the control treatments and the more challenging dogs in the e-collar group,” Prof. Cooper explained. Linda Lombardi wrote about a recent study comparing electronic collars vs positive reinforcement in dog training for Fear Free Pets. 

Underdogs: Treating needy pets in disadvantaged communities. Dr. Marc Bekoff interviews Dr. Arnold Arluke and Dr. Andrew Rowan about their new book  

What makes you click? Prof. Daniel Mills speaks to Jean Donaldson. (Podcast).

 “I can’t see anyone that looks like me.” For the Record’s conversation between vet students Sanaa Cocker, Isobel Corp, Stephanie-Rae Flicker, and Nicole Regan, who responded to a call for students from ethnic minorities to speak about their experiences in vet school in the UK.  (Podcast).

What does a forensic veterinarian do? ER Vet’s Dr. Justine Lee talks to Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore. (Podcast).

Photos of rescue dogs eating peanut butter by Murphy Moroney with photos by Greg Murray. 


Wag wins an award

I was absolutely thrilled to learn that Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy has won a Maxwell Medallion from the Dog Writer’s Association of America for the best book (behaviour, health, or general care). This is such an honour and I’m delighted!

Wag is announced as the winner of a DWAA award.  Companion Animal Psychology News Feb 2021

This year, the ceremony was broadcast live on Facebook because of the pandemic.


Animal Book Club

This month, the book club is reading Alex and Me by Irene Pepperberg. It is available from my Amazon store.


The book club is not currently accepting new members. I will let you know when that changes.


Support me on Ko-fi

Companion Animal Psychology is free for everyone, and supported by readers like you.

This month, I’d like to say a special thank you to Sarah, Francisca Jongen, Jill Bradshaw, and several anonymous people for your support. You are amazing and I really, really appreciate your support.



If you’d like to support me, you can buy me a coffee on Ko-fi as a one-time or monthly contribution. Thank you!


Companion Animal Psychology Merch

Check out the Companion Animal Psychology merch store for our logo tees, TRUST KINDNESS & COOKIES tees, and more. Use promo code CAPNEWS for 10% off until midnight 22nd Feb. 

A set of three tees from the Companion Animal Psychology merch store


Here at Companion Animal Psychology

Wag on a TV bookshelf! Global BC’s reporter Keith Baldrey has been doing an amazing job of reporting on the pandemic and of supporting local authors. I was so excited to see Wag on his bookshelf.

Wag displayed on Keith Baldrey's bookshelf on Global BC TV.

Room Rater gave him 10/10 too.

Room Rater gives Keith Baldrey 10/10, with Wag in the background

I was quoted in this excellent WIRED piece by Sassafras Lowrey, In praise of positive reinforcement for your pets.  

I continue to work hard on my book about cats, but it’s been nice to have some time to blog this month too. But first, I’ve been thrilled to publish three incredible guest posts.

Kristi Benson, special correspondent, wrote this beautiful piece Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold: Nursery rhymes as a window into our shared history with dogs.  

For Pet Dental Health month, veterinarian Dr. Rachel Szumel wrote about six reasons you should be brushing your dog’s (and cat’s) teeth. If you’re thinking that sounds a bit tricky, check out the tips in her post, and also her online course, Healthy Smiles.  

And for a hat-trick of amazing guest posts, Dr. Shelly Volsche wrote A love letter to loss: Missing Calvin in the middle of COVID.  If you’ve had the misfortune to lose a pet lately, you will feel seen in this post.

Dogs trained with rewards only are more optimistic than those trained with a lot of aversive methods. I went into the details of some new research. And a secure enclosure is good for cat’s welfare even for cats who are used to being able to roam, according to this new research. 

Over at my Psych Today blog I wrote about how some people are having issues with their pets during the pandemic. In some cases, having to look after a pet at this time just makes life harder, it seems.

The Writer’s Pet spoke to Hannah Gold about her love of animals and her incredible debut, The Last Bear.  


Pets in art

This month’s image is this magic lantern slide called Listening to the crickets. It’s by Alfred Stieglitz and dates from around 1900.

Listening to crickets lantern slide. This month's pets in art at Companion Animal Psychology news

Magic lanterns were the earliest form of slide projectors, originally developed in the 17th century. Early versions were lit by candles, then oil lamps, and later of course by electricity. Early slides were hand-painted. Photographic slides were made from 1849.  

This image is in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago but not on public display.  

And apropos of nothing, you might also enjoy this delightful piece about the restoration of a toy goat cart.  

A dog looks hopefully at the camera while Wag is displayed on the screen

Wag is available in my Amazon store and all good bookstores.


Zazie Todd, PhD, is the author of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy, a BC bestseller and winner of the Maxwell Medallion for best book (behaviour, health or general care) from the Dog Writers Association of America. 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.

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