Posts

Why Don’t People Want Pets? Part 2: Dogs

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What stops people from adopting dogs from shelters? By Zazie Todd, PhD This page contains affiliate links which means I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases at no cost to you. The AHA/PetSmart Charities study on barriers to the adoption of dogs has some interesting findings (see last week for the results on cats ). The survey included previous owners (people who had owned a dog/cat before, but at least 12 months ago) and non-owners (who had never owned a dog/cat as an adult).  The most common source of a dog was from family, a friend or neighbour (38%), with 22% going to a shelter and 16% to a breeder.   As with cats , the main reason they no longer had the dog was because it had died or had to be put to sleep, and the second-most common reason was because the pet was given away, often because of housing requirements (e.g. the landlord said no pets). More than half of previous owners had had the dog for over ten years, and a quarter for between five and ten years.

Why Don’t People Want Pets? Part 1: Cats

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What stops people from adopting cats from shelters? By Zazie Todd, PhD This page contains affiliate links which means I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases at no cost to you. The American Humane Association is investigating how to increase the adoption and retention of animals from shelters. It’s a pressing question because, in the US, 3 to 4 million animals are euthanized every year even though they are healthy and adoptable. The first part of the study, funded by PetSmart Charities, looked at the reasons why people choose not to have a cat or dog. They interviewed people who had previously had a cat or dog but don’t have one now, and those who have never had a pet as an adult. The results make depressing reading, especially for cat lovers. This week I will focus on what the results mean for cats, and next week I will look at what they say about dogs. Photo: wjarek / Shutterstock People who had previously owned a cat were most likely to have got the anima

Late Summer

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CAPB is on vacation: Photo: Shutterstock This page contains affiliate links which means I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases at no cost to you. 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 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, writes The Pawsitive Post premium newsletter, and also has a column at Psychology Today . 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 This page contains affiliate links which means I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases at no cost to you. 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 par

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

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

Dogs with Behaviour Issues Can Respond with Aggression to Aversive Training Techniques

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For dogs with problem behaviours, the use of aversive techniques can lead to an aggressive response. Part V of the series positive reinforcement and dog training.  Photo: SipaPhoto (Shutterstock) By Zazie Todd, PhD This page contains affiliate links which means I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases at no cost to you. Get Companion Animal Psychology in your inbox. 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, an

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