The Companion Animal Psychology Posts of the Year 2021

The top posts of the year and a couple of things to look forward to in 2022

A Border Collie does a trick in a frosty field
Photo: Ivanova N/Shutterstock

By Zazie Todd PhD

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It’s been another tough year and as we all wish for a brighter year in 2022, there’s still too much going on. But I’ve kept on writing through the year, and as is tradition I’m going to share some of the highlights and, at the end, a few things to look forward to next year.

I was lucky to publish two interviews with amazing people this year. Photographer Jesse Freidin and Dr. Robert Garofalo spoke to me about their beautiful book, When Dogs Heal: Powerful Stories of People Living with HIV and the Dogs That Saved Them, which uses photographs and stories to teach us about the difference dogs can make to people with HIV. 

When Dogs Heal book cover

And recently I spoke with Canadian animal lawyer Victoria Shroff about her book, Canadian Animal Law, which is aimed at anyone who wants to understand how the law can help animals.


Canadian Animal Law book cover

Some amazing writers have told me about their pet and the influence they have on their writing. Check out these interviews and learn about the latest books from Trina Moyles (Lookout: Love, Solitude, and Searching for Wildfire in the Boreal Forest), Jen Sookfong Lee (The Shadow List and Finding Home: The Journey of Immigrants and Refugees), Jen Hirt (Hear Me Ohio), Hannah Gold (The Last Bear), and Jessica Redland (The Hedgehog Hollow series).  

The writer's pet (six book covers)

Speaking of books, this year, the animal book club read ten books. And there are now 900 members! To help me manage the growing numbers, the book club is now for subscribers only.     

As usual I’ve been lucky to publish some amazing guest posts. In a beautiful piece of writing, Dr. Shelly Volsche shared her feelings on losing her beloved dog during the pandemic in A love letter to loss: Missing Calvin in the middle of covid

Veterinarian Dr. Rachel Szumel shared the top 6 reasons you should be brushing your dog’s (and cat’s) teeth. This post is full of tips to help you get started today.

And Beth Sautins wrote about reactive dogs in a post about how compassion and the power of animal learning are at the heart of training. This one even made it into my top 10 for the year! (see below).

A fluffy dog disappearing under the sofa
Jane Petrova/Shutterstock

Special Correspondent Kristi Benson wrote some truly special pieces. She wrote about dismantling myths in salience, motivation, and good fortune in dog training. And she considered whether dogs have evolved to lurk in the kitchen in Pease Porridge Hot, Pease Porridge Cold: Nursery rhymes as a window into our shared history with dogs

Kristi applies another heart-warming story to dogs in peeling carrots like Grandma: lessons in efficiency for dog training. And she also wrote about the stress of being a dog owner in overcoming the colossal fear of looking like a graceless noob.  

I was thrilled to get such a wonderful response to the launch of my premium newsletter, The Pawsitive Post. It publishes on the first and third Wednesday of each month and brings a mix of scientific summaries and pieces on dog and cat behaviour and training, along with my picks from the web and a personal column about my own pets. I’m delighted to say that Kristi has a column in every issue too. 

There are regular webinars and events for subscribers, and you also get the satisfaction of knowing that you’re supporting my writing on reward-based training and how to understand dogs and cats. If you’re interested, you can sign up here.  

As usual, I’ve been quoted in various media this year. My favourites include the podcast A Dog’s Life with Anna Webb,  chatting with Daniel Mills for his podcast What Makes You Click?,  and the BARKS podcast

Perhaps the most exciting thing to happen this year is that Pepper came to live with us. It’s been really nice having a dog in the house again. He is very sweet and the cats approve of him too. He was very overweight when we adopted him, but after being on a diet for several months, he reached a weight the vet is happy with. He doesn’t like the rain but he is quite happy about snow, and he loves his short training sessions each day.

Pepper the Shih Tzu wearing a blue coat in the snow
Pepper. Photo: Zazie Todd

Finally, I’d like to thank everyone who has supported this blog this year, whether through a subscription or via Ko-Fi or merch. Your support is invaluable! Thank you.

The posts of the year

These were my top 10 posts in 2021:

10. Why you need to reward your dog in training, according to the experts  

9. Understanding aggression in dogs: It’s complex, but fear is a common cause  

8. If the cat fits, it tells us what they see  

7. A secure outdoor enclosure is good for cats, study says  

6. Reactive dogs: Compassion and the power of animal learning are at the heart of training (Beth Sautins)  

5. Puppy play: An essential part of puppy class for a well-rounded dog  

4. 13 common dog training mistakes and how to avoid them  

3. Top tips on puppy raising from the experts  

2. New study shows dogs trained with rewards only are more optimistic  

1. How to prioritize training for a new rescue dog: A guide  

Looking forward to 2022

There are a couple of things I’m really looking forward to in 2022.

Specialty webinars for dog and cat guardians

First, the 2022 speciality webinars from Ottawa Humane Society. I’m presenting four webinars—two on dogs and two on cats—in February and March. These are aimed at pet guardians and will be full of tips to help you make your dog and cat happy and deal with behaviour issues. Get the details and sign up here: Ottawa Humane Society 2022 specialty webinars

My next book, Purr

And second, I am so excited that my next book Purr: The Science of Making Your Cat Happy, with a foreword by Pam Johnson-Bennett, will be published in May. 

Like Wag, it takes you from getting a kitten or cat right through to the end of a cat’s life; every chapter ends with a list of tips based on the science, and there’s a checklist for a happy cat at the end to help you identify what you’re doing right and where you might consider making a change. 

The cover of Zazie Todd's next book, Purr: The Science of Making Your Cat Happy

You can pre-order Purr here:

Pre-orders really matter to authors because they help bookstores and publishers know that there’s interest in a book. Something else to think about is that I will be inviting a select group of people to join me on my launch team. If that’s something you might be interested in, stay tuned for more information in a couple of months. The invite will go out on my newsletter first.

If you'd like to subscribe to my free newsletter, you can do so here. I won't share your email with anyone and you can unsubscribe at any time.


Finally, thanks for being one of my readers at Companion Animal Psychology. I wish you and yours a happy and healthy 2022.


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