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Season's Greetings

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Happy Holidays!








Thank you for your support, encouragement, comments, likes and shares throughout the year.

Season's Greetings and all best wishes for a joyful and peaceful 2017!

Zazie
Companion Animal Psychology

By Zazie Todd, PhD


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, BC, with her husband, one dog, and two cats.

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Companion Animal Psychology News December 2016

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The latest news on cats and dogs from Companion  Animal Psychology, December 2016.




By Zazie Todd, PhD
Some of my favourite posts from around the web this month
Realizing the Fear Free dream for pets by Dr. Marty Becker.

Good intentions can go very wrong when you find a lost pet by Maddie’s Fund.

Helping your dog feel safe during the holidays by Maureen Backman.

How to enrich cats’ lives: Food puzzles for cats. Felicity Muth talks to Mikel Delgado.

Why are pets popular with artists?Dr. Anne Fawcett interviews Dr. Sarah Engledow about the Popular Pet  Show at the National Portrait Gallery in Australia.


Pets in the news…
In the UK, the RSPCA’s petition to repeal Breed Specific Legislation now has more than 50,000 signatures. The London Assembly has also called for a review, saying the legislation “has failed to protect the public and dog welfare.” If you want to know more, here is a link to the RSPCA report ‘Breed Specific Legislation – A Dog’s Dinner’ and to the petition

Meanwhile in Montr…

How to Choose a Dog Trainer

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How to choose the right dog trainer for you and your dog, including the methods and qualifications to look for.


By Zazie Todd, PhD

Whether you want to take part in obedience classes or arrange private sessions to resolve your dog’s behaviour problem, choosing the right dog trainer can be a difficult decision.

Because dog training is unlicensed, anyone can call themselves a dog trainer, regardless of whether or not they have any education.

So what should you look for? This article explains the key things you need to know before you hire a dog trainer.


The most important choice in hiring a dog trainer
When choosing a dog trainer, the most important thing is to find a trainer who uses reward-based dog training methods, which they might call positive reinforcement, force-free, or humane training methods.

However, just because you see those words on someone’s website, does not mean they actually use those methods (see below for the questions you should ask).

Reward-based dog training is bas…

Losing a Pet Can Lead to Different Types of Grief

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New research looks at the factors that influence how we feel after euthanizing a pet.


By Zazie Todd, PhD

The loss of a pet is a difficult process. People’s feelings of grief may be the same as for losing a human family member. New research investigates some of the factors that may affect people’s grief and sorrow after euthanizing a dog or cat.

The study, by Sandra Barnard-Nguyen (University of Sydney) et al, is one of the first to use a survey designed specifically to measure people’s responses to loss of a pet, rather than a human. This takes account of differences in the experience, including the decision to euthanize a pet.

A reaction of grief and sorrow on the loss of a pet can be seen as part of a normal psychological process.  However in some people there may be feelings of guilt and anger that are more problematic. This type of grief is seen as ‘complicated’ and may sometimes develop into depression or other mental health issues.

The study looked at these three types of grief i…

Companion Animal Psychology Book Club: December 2016

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The book of the month is The Secret History of Kindness by Melissa Holbrook Pierson.




By Zazie Todd, PhD

The Companion Animal Psychology Book Club continues with discussion of The Secret History of Kindness: Learning from How Dogs Learn by Melissa Holbrook Pierson.

From the cover, "Pierson draws surprising connections in her exploration of how kindness works to motivate all animals, including the human one."

Later in the month, I will post my comments about the book, along with some highlights of the book club discussion.

You will be able to leave your thoughts on the book in the comments section.

Through the book club, we will learn more about companion animals and our relationship with them, build up a nice library of books about animals, and of course enjoy talking about the books.

Are you reading too?


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 everyth…

Playtime After Training Improves a Dog's Memory

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Making time for play immediately after a dog training session improves the dog’s memory.




By Zazie Todd, PhD

New research by Nadja Affenzeller (University of Lincoln) et al investigates whether play following learning leads to better performance the next day. The scientists wanted to know whether this effect, previously found in humans, would also apply to dogs.

In people, it is thought that the hormonal response during positive arousal acts on parts of the brain called the hippocampus and amygdala and leads to better memory. The effect applies to a type of memory called declarative memory, which is our memory for facts and events (for example, the President of the United States, or the capital of Denmark).

Now we can’t expect dogs to tell us who is the President of the United States, but it is possible to get them to do a task very similar to one used in some of the human memory research: learning to tell the difference between two objects.

The results show that the dogs who got to pla…

The Trainable Cat: Companion Animal Psychology Book Club.

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The book for November was The Trainable Cat: How to Make Life Happier for You and Your Cat by John Bradshaw and Sarah Ellis.




By Zazie Todd, PhD

The Trainable Cat: A Practical Guide to Making Life Happier for You and Your Cat is fascinating from start to finish.

It is about how to teach your cat the things that will help him or her to have an easier, happier life. Instead of tricks or obedience, think useful skills like how to get along with a new baby or how to go in the cat carrier.

Near the beginning of the book, the authors say,
“we aim to show you how training can improve not just your relationship with your cat but also your beloved pet’s sense of well-being. That’s not to say that the training won’t be fun – it will, for both of you – but the distinction is that you will be producing a happy and well-disposed pet, not a circus star.”
Each chapter has a section on how cats see the world, followed by training information. Early chapters explain how cats learn. Chapter 3 introduces a…