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Are Deaf Dogs and Blind Dogs just like other Dogs?

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Do dogs that are deaf and/or blind have specific behavioural traits? New research sets out to investigate – and finds they are very similar to dogs with normal hearing and vision.




By Zazie Todd, PhD

No one knows exactly how many dogs have hearing or vision problems. Congenital deafness and/or blindness occur in several breeds. In some cases this is related to coat colours – for example the double merle gene in Australian Shepherds is linked to deafness and blindness – and at other times not, as with inherited cataracts in many breeds.

Very little is known about how dogs with inherited or acquired vision or hearing disorders behave, which was the motivation for this study by Valeri Farmer-Dougan et al (in press) of Ilinois State University.
The results showed many similarities between dogs with a hearing or vision impairment (HVI) and those without. This shows that HVI dogs can make good family pets. In fact, the non-HVI dogs were rated as more aggressive and more excitable than those w…

Adopting Shelter Dogs: Should Fido Lie Down or Play?

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If you go down to the shelter today, will you bring home a dog? A new study by Alexandra Protopopova and Clive Wynne (2014) finds that interactions between dogs and potential adopters predict the likelihood of adoption.


By Zazie Todd, PhD

Every year in the USA, 3-4 million healthy, potentially-adoptable, homeless animals are euthanized (AHA and PetSmart 2012). Many would be saved if there was a better understanding of how to increase adoptions from animal shelters. Previous studies have looked at whether it is possible to train dogs to behave in ways that will increase the likelihood of adoption, but so far there is a lack of consensus. Protopopova and Wynne’s study is a welcome addition to the literature since it focusses on interactions between dogs and potential adopters.

The study took place at the Alachua County Animal Services in Florida. A researcher observed 250 interactions between dogs and potential adopters. About a third of the people saw more than one dog, and some dogs w…

Summer Break / Summer Reading

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By Zazie Todd, PhD

Companion Animal Psychology Blog is taking a summer break. Meanwhile, on twitter and facebook we continue to share links to the best writing about companion animals and their people. Why not join us?

If you’re looking for some summer reading (and listening and viewing), these are some of our favourites:
We’re delighted that some CAPB stories now appear in Pacific Standard, including Dog Training, Animal Welfare and the Human-Canine Relationship Can Playing with your Cat Prevent Behavior Problems?Mikel Delgado investigates.
Wild behaviour: The science of cats in boxes is explored in this Human Animal Science podcast with Sandra McCune.
We can’t resist this video from Japan of a cat falling asleep on a watermelonWhat the pug is going on? by Mia Cobb at Do You Believe in Dog.
The First Thing to Teach Your Puppy by Eileen and Dogs
Five Things You Can Do to Bite-Proof your Puppy by Anne Springer of Paws for Praise
Fading Food Lures by Lori Nanan at Your Pit Bull and You.
Sud…

The Effects of Owner Experience and Housing on Argentine Dogos

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What are the effects of an owner’s prior dog experience and the dog’s housing on behaviour problems? A survey of people with Argentine Dogos investigates.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

Some previous research has suggested people who are first-time dog owners are more likely to have a dog with behaviour problems, perhaps because they don’t have enough experience. Also, sometimes people say breed experience is helpful. The aim of this study was to investigate this by looking at only one breed of dog, the Argentine Dogo.

This breed was chosen because it was affected by dangerous dog legislation in Italy and, as the researchers put it, “was publicly blamed for posing a risk to human society.” Hence, it is an interesting choice for investigating the relationship between dogs and their owners.
The survey, conducted by Silvana Diverio (Perugia University) and Gabriella Tami, was completed by 94 owners who between them had 181 Argentine Dogos. Participants were recruited via the Italian Dogo Argentine …

Is it Important to Attend Puppy Class?

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Is a one-off puppy party a suitable alternative to a six-week puppy class? Research says you can’t skip the socialization if you want a well-rounded adult dog.



By Zazie Todd, PhD

A study by Ai Kutsumi et al (2013) of the Azabu University Graduate School of Veterinary Science compares four groups of dogs: those who attended a six-week puppy class, those who went to a one-hour puppy party, those who attended a six-week adult dog training class, and those who didn’t attend any puppy or training class at all. 
Dogs who attended the 6-week puppy class or the adult dog training class scored significantly better on response to commands, showing that dogs can learn obedience commands at any age.

Dogs who had been to puppy class were significantly more likely to give a positive response to a stranger than those who had been to just a one-hour puppy party or not attended any classes at all. They also tended to do better than those who had only been to adult dog training. This shows that the socia…

The Attentive Look of a Dog in Training

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Researchers investigate the body language of a dog that is performing well in training.


By Zazie Todd, PhD

A new study puts dogs through the first stage of a basic training task and analyzes eye contact and posture in the most successful dogs. The research by Masashi Hasegawa et al (Azabu University School of Veterinary Medicine) is motivated by a desire to improve people’s training abilities by helping them recognize the posture associated with successful learning. 
One of the neat things about this paper is that the study was done with completely untrained dogs. For obvious reasons, many canine science studies use well-behaved pet dogs of the kind that is calm when taken to a strange location like a university laboratory. While these studies are valuable, not all dogs are well-socialized and it’s important that research considers all kinds of dogs. What better dog for a study of dogs-in-training than one that is totally untrained?!
The dogs live at a place called the World Ranch in O…

The Adolescent Dog: One Last Chance?

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A synthesis of the latest research on social influences on development suggests adolescence is an important time for mammals – including dogs.


By Zazie Todd, PhD

Most people are familiar with the idea of a sensitive period for puppies that ends around 12 or 14 weeks. Is it possible that adolescence is also an important period for brain development and future behaviour?
Social experience plays an important role in shaping animal behaviour throughout development according to Sachser et al (2013). They consider the way the environment influences the mother and, in turn, the behaviour of her offspring (e.g. through stress hormones). This ensures the offspring is prepared for that environment as adults. 
While the paper looks at the prenatal period right through to adolescence, it is the section on adolescent animals that is of most interest.

They write that
“the adolescent phase may provide a last chance for correction if the future environment deviates from that predicted in earlier phase…