Posts

Late Summer

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CAPB is on vacation: Photo: Shutterstock If you want to catch up on any posts you've missed, there's the series on dog training (you can start at the beginning or skip to the end ), read about the long-term effects of puppy mills on breeding dogs, or find out why some owners don't walk their dogs . If you're more of a cat person, you might enjoy  the cat at the window or these reasons why two kittens is better than one . And if you like both cats and dogs , which should you get first? Back next week! By Zazie Todd, PhD This page contains affiliate links. 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, B

An Ancient Egyptian Mummified Cat

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Italian scientists have conducted a radiological examination of a mummified cat. By Zazie Todd, PhD In Ancient Egypt, cats were revered. It is thought that cats were first domesticated in Egypt about 10,000 years ago. The first mummified cats were buried with their owners. Over time customs changed, and mummified cats were made as offerings to the feline goddess, Bastet. From 332BC to 30BC, cats were bred specifically to be used as offerings, and cat mummies were available at different price points, ranging from ones containing a few bones, to more elaborate mummies containing the entire cat. Engraving of a cat on the outer walls of an ancient temple at Edfu, Egypt Photo: BasPhoto / Shutterstock A team of Italian scientists led by Giacomo Gnudi at the University of Parma, in Italy, recently performed a radiological examination of a cat mummy. The mummy is part of the University’s Ancient Egyptian collection, and was bought in the 19 th century. Apparently cat mummies w

Positive Reinforcement and Dog Training VII: Summary and Conclusions

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The best way to train a dog is by using rewards, but many owners continue to use aversive techniques. By Zazie Todd, PhD This is the final part of the series on the scientific research on dog training methods used by ordinary dog owners in ordinary situations. Over the last few weeks, we have looked at five separate studies. The conclusion of all of them is that reward-based training is best. Two separate questionnaire studies by Hiby et al and Blackwell et al found that dogs trained using only positive reinforcement are more obedient than dogs trained with punishment . Dogs whose owners used punishment were more likely to have behaviour problems such as fear and aggression. A study of training small dogs versus large dogs by Arhant et al confirmed that greater frequency of punishment is linked to aggression and excitability. These problems are even worse in small dogs, which are trained with less consistency and respond more negatively to punishment. These

Part VI of Positive Reinforcement and Dog Training: Learning New Behaviours

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A past history of rewards-based training leads to more success in future training sessions. By Zazie Todd, PhD So far in the  series on positive reinforcement in dog training , we have found an association between the use of punishment in dog training  and unwanted behavioural issues such as aggression. The use of positive methods only is also more effective than using a combination of rewards and punishment, or punishment alone. However, all of the studies have relied on owner’s reports of their own dog’s behaviour. What if the behaviour is assessed by someone else? Does the training technique used in the past affect a dog’s performance at learning something new? That’s exactly what Nicola Rooney and Sarah Cowan set out to investigate. In this study, 53 dog owners were asked how they had trained their dog in the same seven everyday situations that were used in the  study by Hiby , discussed earlier in the series. This page contains affiliate links.

Part V of Positive Reinforcement and Dog Training: Dogs with Behaviour Problems

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For dogs with problem behaviours, the use of aversive techniques can lead to an aggressive response. Photo: SipaPhoto (Shutterstock) By Zazie Todd, PhD In this week’s edition of the  series , we take another look at the use of punishment . However, while previous posts have looked at ordinary dog owners, this week the focus is on people who are having problems with their dogs . This is from a study by Meghan Herron and colleagues in the US. People who had a referral to an animal behaviourist were asked to complete a questionnaire. It asked about dog training techniques, whether the technique had worked, who had suggested it, and whether any aggressive behaviour resulted. The questionnaire was completed prior to the first meeting with the behaviourist, and the dog owners were there for a range of problems including aggression to people or other animals, house-soiling, separation anxiety, and other common problems. In total, 140 people took part. The results showed that av

Positive Reinforcement and Dog Training IV: Little Dogs vs Big Dogs

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In this week’s edition of the series on positive reinforcement and dog training , we investigate whether small dogs are treated differently than large dogs. By Zazie Todd, PhD The answer comes from a large-scale study by Christine Arhant and colleagues in Vienna. Since Viennese dogs must be registered with the city, they posted a questionnaire to a random sample of registered dog-owners. They received 1276 responses from owners of pet dogs that lived in the home with them. For the purposes of this study, 20kg was the cut-off for small dogs; any dog that weighed more than 20kg was considered a large dog . The questionnaire asked about training techniques and dog behaviour, as well as characteristics of the dog.  One of the nice things about this study is the impressively large sample size. Whereas the previous studies separated out owners who used only positive reinforcement, this study instead looks at the frequency of positive reinforcement and punishment .  There was

Positive Reinforcement and Dog Training III

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A study finds people who only use positive reinforcement report their dogs are less attention-seeking, aggressive or fearful. By Zazie Todd, PhD This is the third part in a series about positive reinforcement and dog training . This week I’m looking at another questionnaire study of ordinary dog owners and the way they train their dogs . The study was conducted by Emily Blackwell and colleagues, and involved 192 dog owners that were recruited from three counties in the UK. They seem to be typical owners of typical dogs, as the sample included a wide range of breeds, a mix of genders (neutered/spayed/or not), and a range of different ages. Owners were asked whether their dogs had attended training or puppy socialization classes, the methods they had used to train them at home, and about any problem behaviours the dogs might display. In total 88% of the owners said they had done some training at home. The methods were classified into groups: positive reinforcement