Posts

Invitation to the Train for Rewards Blog Party

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Join the blog party to celebrate rewards-based training of our dogs and other companion animals. #Train4Rewards



By Zazie Todd, PhD

Are you a blogger? Do you support rewards-based training for dogs and other animals? Would you like to take part in the #Train4Rewards blog party?

You are invited to write a blog post about rewards-based training of dogs or other companion animals, post it on your own blog on the set date, then come and share a link to it here. Bloggers from anywhere in the world are invited to take part.

Read on to find out more.

On Wednesday, 15th June: 1. Publish a post on your blog in support of the #Train4Rewards blog party. It can be words, photos, video, a podcast, or a combination, and relate to any kind of companion animal.  I’ve put some suggestions below to get you started.

Double-check your post to make sure the tone is friendly and supportive to people who might not know anything about positive reinforcement training – we want to encourage them to get intereste…

Dog Attacks on Guide Dogs: The Personal and Financial Cost

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A new report finds there are 11 dog attacks on guide dogs every month in the UK, on average.


By Zazie Todd, PhD

Guide dogs provide essential assistance to people who are blind or partially sighted. When other dogs attack guide dogs, the consequences can be severe. The charity Guide Dogs has been keeping records of these attacks, and a new paper by Rachel Moxon (of Guide Dogs) et al details the problems faced over a 56 month period from 2010 to 2015.

During this time, there were 629 attacks. 68% of the victims were qualified Guide Dogs (almost three-quarters of which were in harness at the time of the attack). 20% were dogs in puppy walk (aged up to 1.5 years), 8% were dogs in training, and the remainder were retired, breeding dogs, or buddy dogs.

“Within the current study, 20 dogs were withdrawn from the Guide Dogs programme as a direct result of a dog attack,” write the authors, “20% of qualified guide dogs required time off from working and 13 dogs were withdrawn from working as a gu…

Behaviour Problems in Puppies from Pet Stores

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Dogs originally bought from pet stores are more likely to be aggressive to their owner compared to those from responsible breeders, even after owner-related factors are taken into account.


By Zazie Todd, PhD

Research by Frank McMillan et al (2013) found that dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores are more likely to have a whole range of behaviour problems than those from responsible breeders, including 3x more likely to be aggressive towards their owner. Pet store puppies come from commercial breeding establishments, otherwise known as puppy mills, which are run for profit and not animal welfare.

Since well-informed people are less likely to go to pet stores, one potential confound is that the owners of pet store puppies may know less about how to raise a dog. A new study by Federica Pirrone et al (2016) takes owner factors into consideration too.

The results show 21% of the dogs that were obtained as puppies from pet stores were aggressive towards their owner compared to 10% of thos…

Why Science Matters to Our Dogs and Cats

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Science – and science blogging – can help animal welfare in important ways.


By Zazie Todd, PhD

We wish our companion animals to lead a charmed life and always be happy. We want our dogs and cats to have a wonderful relationship with us. But we can’t achieve this if we don’t know what they need and how we should interact with them.

Last year, some readers took part in a survey of who reads science blogs. The preliminary results are out, and it’s got me thinking about why science – and science blogging – matters for our companion animals.

One of the findings of Dr. Paige Jarreau's study is that in general (and regardless of level of education, gender, age and consumption of other online science info) people who consistently read science blogs were better able to answer the knowledge questions about science that were included in the survey (a few of you sent me comments on those at the time).

“This finding is a promising indicator that science blogs may be promoting greater scientific…

Enrichment Tips for Cats (That Many People Miss)

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Cats have a moderately-enriched life, but people need more knowledge about their felines in order to do better, according to a new study.



By Zazie Todd, PhD

There are many ways we can improve our cats’ lives: toys that let the cat simulate stalking prey, social interaction with people, providing spaces high-up for cats to go. This is called environmental enrichment, and is especially important for indoor cats.

A new study by Ana Margarida Alho et al (University of Lisbon) finds that although most cats do quite well, there are some things many people are missing. Here are some of the highlights.


Food toys
“Taking into account their low cost, the fact that they also can be homemade and free, the ease of assembly, and the inherent advantages promoting locomotion and decreasing inactive behaviour, we find it regrettable that such a small number of guardians use them,” say the scientists.

Only 5% used food toys such as balls, puzzle toys and hiding food. There are many types of food-dispens…

How to Choose the Right Puppy in Four Easy Steps

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Four essential questions and a checklist of tips to help you choose the perfect puppy for you.




By Zazie Todd, PhD

You’ve decided it’s the right time to add a puppy to your life: you’ve got the time and energy and you can afford the bills (approximately $1,580 in the first year of a medium-size dog’s life, according to the ASPCA). And now it’s time to choose your puppy. But most guides to getting a puppy miss some vital questions. Read on to find out how to get it right and pick the perfect pet for you.


1. Which breed of dog should I get?
This is the question most people focus on, and it’s true it’s an important one. You need to think about the energy requirements you want, because it’s no good getting a working dog if you really want a couch potato (and vice versa, of course). Even within a breed, like Labrador Retrievers, there can be differences between working lines (bred to have a job) and show lines that make easier pets. 

You also want a friendly dog (I assume). If you have chil…

Less Stress at the Vet for Dogs and Cats

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Does your dog hate going to the vet? Does your cat refuse to go in her carrier? Here are some essential tips for better visits to the vet - less stressful for your pet and easier for you.




By Zazie Todd, PhD

You stealthily trapped your cat in the lounge, but at the first sight of the carrier she ran to hide under the sofa – and she’s not coming out. You move the sofa and grab her as she flees, then get scratched in the process of forcing her into the carrier.
Or you’re in the waiting room at the vet’s and your dog keeps getting up and trying to leave. When you are called to the consulting room, he parks his rear end on the floor and refuses to move.
It doesn’t have to be this way. 
30% of dogs are highly stressed in the vet’s waiting room (Mariti et al 2015) and cats – just like people – experience the white coat effect whereby their blood pressure and heart rate goes up in the presence of the vet (Belew, Barlett & Brown 1999). 24% of cats have bitten or scratched their owner at the vet