Companion Animal Psychology News August 2019

The importance of play, chickens as domesticated animals, and beautiful cat photos – this month’s news.

My favourites this month “It took two weeks for her to start greeting friends normally (people she knows and loves). Before that, when they would come, she would run up to my bed and hide.” An important post from Eileen Anderson with a story from a dog owner about what happened when a trainer used a shock collar on her dog, and commentary from Eileen about the issues with shock collars and an unregulated industry.

“Play is so important for normal development that it takes a lot to deprive an animal of play and play deprived animals are a mess.” Giz asks, do animals work out, with lots of great comments about play. Compiled by Daniel Koltz.

Do cats hold a grudge?Dr. Mikel Delgado looks at two studies of the effects of different handling techniques on cats.

Traveling with your dog. interviews Suzanne Bryner of Lucky Fido Dog Training, and you'll find lots of great tips f…

Fellow Creatures: New Post on Animal Hoarding

Over at my Psychology Today blog, Fellow Creatures, I have a new post on animal hoarding.

It looks at a study of a new, integrated approach taken in Wake County, North Carolina, where multiple agencies now work together on animal hoarding cases. Animal hoarding is a mental health issue recognized in the DSM-5, and many hoarders simply start again once their animals are taken away.

The new approach includes guidelines on how many animals they can keep and the care they must provide. You can read the post, taking an integrated approach to animal hoarding.

Join over 2,500 animal lovers and subscribe to Companion Animal Psychology to make sure you never miss a post.

By Zazie Todd, PhD.

Summer Reading: Books about Animals, Fiction, and Nonfiction for Summer 2019

My pick of the books to read this summer, from books about animals to the latest fiction and nonfiction from Canada and elsewhere.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

It’s beautiful weather here, and time for pottering about in the garden and sitting with a book. These are the books I’ve read or am reading this summer.

You can find them all in my Amazon store:

Our Dogs, Ourselves: The Story of a Singular Bond by Alexandra Horowitz
In Our Dogs, Ourselves, Horowitz takes a fascinating look at the human-dog relationship, ambiguities and all. She’s been listening in on the ways people talk to their dogs and details the fun things that happen in a dog cognition lab. In reflecting on historical changes in breeds, such as the increasingly flat faces of some dogs, she urges dog owners to do better. And the relative risks and benefits of spay/neuter surgery may not be what you think. This is a beautiful, thoughtful, and heart-breaking book. Delightful and hard-hitting i…

Fellow Creatures - New Post

At my Fellow Creatures blog on Psychology today, a new post looks at some research on how the owners of Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, and Pugs, perceive the health of their dog.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

The study shows they have a very close bond with their dog, but the concern is some health issues are missed or as seen as 'normal' for the breed. Read more in health issues in brachycephalic dogs are often missed.

The study also reports on common health issues in these dogs, and on the common surgeries they may have as a result of the conformation.

Animal Book Club August 2019

"A remarkable chronicle of the domestic dog’s journey across thousands of years and straight into our hearts, written with equal parts tenderness and scientific rigor." (Brain Pickings)

By Zazie Todd, PhD

After a month's break, the Companion Animal Psychology Book Club resumes in August with What's a Dog For?: The Surprising History, Science, Philosophy, and Politics of Man’s Best Friend by John Homans.
"As dogs take their place as coddled family members and their numbers balloon to over 77 million in the United States alone, it’s no surprise that canine culture is undergoing a massive transformation. Now subject to many of the same questions of rights and ethics as people, the politics of dogs are more tumultuous and public than ever—with fierce moral battles raging over kill shelters, puppy mills, and breed standards. Incorporating interviews and research from scientists, activists, breeders, and trainers, What’s a Dog For? investigates how dogs have r…

Time with a Person Benefits Fearful Dogs in Shelters

For fearful dogs in shelters, 2x15 minute human interactions per day over 5 days improves scores on a screening test and makes most of them be classed as adoptable.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

Arriving at a shelter is a stressful experience for any dog. For fearful dogs, being unable to escape from something threatening – such as a person entering the kennel – can cause them to show aggressive behaviour such as growling. New research by Regina Willen (HALO) et al, published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science, shows the effectiveness of an enrichment program in helping such dogs be classed as adoptable.

The scientists write,
“While fearful dogs in shelters are vulnerable, the vulnerability is not inevitable. Providing relatively brief human interaction in a quiet area with other elements of enrichment (e.g., treats, toys) can be a powerful means of reducing the aggressiveness of these animals, and appears to also improve their affective state, at least under the conditions tested with our cogni…