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Rivalry and Decision-Making in Dogs

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The relationship between two household dogs affects their decisions, according to new research.



By Zazie Todd, PhD

If you have more than one dog, you might have noticed that if one goes over to sniff a particular spot, sometimes the other dog will also go over there. It’s called local enhancement, in which one dog (we call them the ‘demonstrator’) draws the other dog’s attention to a specific location. It’s a type of social learning that is found in many species.

Dr. Christy Hoffman and Dr. Malini Suchak (Canisius College) investigated whether local enhancement is affected by rivalry between dogs that live in the same household. The dogs were classed as either low- or high-rivalry based on their owners responses to questions on the C-BARQ.

The dog rivalry questions assessed how likely the dog is to be aggressive towards the other dog in the household, or to be aggressive when the other dog approaches when they are sleeping, eating, or playing with a toy.

After conducting two experiments…

Invitation to the 2017 Train for Rewards Blog Party

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Join pet bloggers and dog trainers in supporting reward-based training. #Train4Rewards


By Zazie Todd, PhD

Are you a blogger? Do you support reward-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 reward-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.

Last year, posts covered training of dogs, cats and horses. As well as spreading the word about reward-based training, you will find new people to follow (and pick up new followers in turn).

Read on to find out more.


On Wednesday 14th or Thursday 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 y…

Companion Animal Psychology News May 2017

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This month's news and favourite stories from around the web.


By Zazie Todd, PhD
Some of my favourites from around the web this month…
An anonymous article from the owner of a reactive dog that resonated with many people. "It is painful for me to have to portray my dog as some kind of devil dog to you to get my point across. He really is not; he is funny, intelligent, and the most loving dog I know."

A thoughtful post from Ken Ramirez on the use of clickers in dog training. "The best trainers will keep asking questions to better understand the techniques we use and to understand the science underlying each procedure."

Ouch! Acquired bite inhibition and puppies by Kristi Benson at the Academy for Dog Trainers. "Luckily, most dogs have good—or at least good enough—ABI. However, dog trainers and veterinarians do occasionally get a call about a dog with poor ABI, and it is always heartbreaking."

Why do dogs like to roll in smelly things? By Mary Jo Dilon…

Companion Animal Psychology Tee Raises Funds for Charity

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Wearable artwork. All proceeds to the BC SPCA Maple Ridge.




By Zazie Todd, PhD

I am very excited to launch the Companion Animal Psychology t-shirt today. Isn’t the design gorgeous?!

100% of the proceeds will go to the BC SPCA Maple Ridge. This is the shelter where I have been a regular volunteer for the last 5 years. The funds raised will make a tremendous difference to the dogs, cats and small animals.


Jennifer Stack, shelter manager, says “Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and possibly purchasing a print to help support the animals at the Maple Ridge BC SPCA.

“Our shelter has seen a real change in what animals come into the shelter. Years ago there were lots of puppies and kittens pushing us past capacity and having to develop and rely on a solid foster program for the overflow of these young animals. Through working with veterinarians with education on spaying and neutering pets before 6 months, as well as working with the municipalities to develop programs and so…

Potential Causes of Problems in Pet Store Puppies

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A review of the research finds pet store puppies are more likely to be aggressive as adults, and considers the reasons why.



Several studies have found puppies that come from commercial breeding establishments (CBEs) have a higher rate of behaviour problems than those from responsible breeders. A new review by Frank McMillan looks at the evidence from seven published studies, and then turns to the literature on puppy development to consider the possible causes of these problems.

Essentially, many different stresses at a time when puppies really need to have positive experiences are the likely culprit.

Puppies need to have lots of positive experiences during the socialization period (from 3 until 12 – 16 weeks) to help prepare them for later life. If they are in a commercial breeding establishment, it is not preparing them for life in a family home. But puppies from commercial breeders are also exposed to other sources of stress that may negatively impact their behaviour.
The main behav…

Companion Animal Psychology Book Club May 2017

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The book of the month is Dog Sense by John Bradshaw.



The Companion Animal Psychology Book Club choice for May 2017 is Dog Sense: How the New Science of Dog Behavior Can Make You A Better Friend to Your Pet by John Bradshaw.

For our UK friends, the book is called In Defence of Dogs: Why dogs need our understanding.

From the inside cover,
"The dog has been mankind's faithful companion for tens of thousands of years yet today finds itself in crisis throughout the western world. Until just over a hundred years ago, most dogs worked for their living, and each of the many breeds had become well suited, over countless generations, to the task for which they were bred. Now, in their purely domestic roles, we fail to understand their needs. And it is time that someone stood up for dogdom: not the caricature of the wolf in a dog suit, ready to dominate its unsuspecting owner at the first sign of weakness, nor the trophy animal that collects rosettes and kudos for its breeder, but the r…

People Mistakenly Think Anxious Dogs Are Relaxed Around Baby

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Dog owners are even worse than non-dog owners at interpreting canine body language in interactions with children, according to research.



By Zazie Todd, PhD

Young children, in particular, are at risk of getting bitten by dogs. According to the AVMA, between 2010 and 2012 359,223 children in the US were bitten by dogs. Younger children are most often bitten in the home by a dog they live with (Reisner et al 2011). To prevent dog bites, it's best not to let a child approach a dog that is lying down or sitting still, and to closely supervise all interactions between children and dogs. But what if people don't know what to look for?

A recent study by Dr. Yasemin Salgirli Demirbas (Ankara University) et al asked people to observe three videos of interactions between a young child and a medium or large dog.

In one video, a baby crawls towards a Dalmatian who is lying down next to a ball; in another, a toddler walks around and touches a Doberman; and finally, a Boxer follows and licks …