What Helps Shelter Dogs Get Adopted and Stay in Homes?

A new literature review looks at how shelters can increase adoptions and reduce animal relinquishment.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

The review, by Dr. Alexandra Protopopova (Texas Tech University) and Lisa Gunter, looks at the factors that affect adoption rates, the effects of interventions, and how to decrease the numbers of people giving their dogs to shelters (or returning dogs after adoption). The review is important because it will help shelters to know about evidence-based ways to reduce the number of dogs in shelters.

Although some factors vary from one country to another, some things are consistent: people spend very little time looking at a shelter dog before deciding to adopt, and they pay attention to the dog’s size, breed, and colour.

Dogs can arrive at shelters as strays (the most common route in the US), by being surrendered by their owner (about 30% of dogs in shelters in the US), after being seized in an animal cruelty investigation, or by being returned following an adoption tha…

The 2017 Train for Rewards Blog Party

Welcome to the Train for Rewards blog party! The party aims to encourage people to use rewards when training their dogs or other companion animals.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

Check out all the wonderful blog posts from some amazing trainers. As well as lots of great posts, you will find new bloggers to follow.

The blog party celebrates what we can do with reward-based dog training, encourages people to use rewards in training their pets, and inspires people to improve their technical skills and understanding of how reward-based dog training (and cat training etc) works. (See the invitation and rules).

Take Part in Train for Rewards on 16th June
Read the blog posts, comment on them, and share your favourite posts using the hashtag #Train4RewardsIf you train your dog, cat, ferret, rabbit, horse, pig, etc. with rewards, share a photo of your pet on social media with the hashtag #Train4RewardsAfterwards, reward yourself for participating with a piece of cake, some chocolate, a glass of wine, a walk…

Spreading the Word on Reward-Based Training

Sometimes, we all need a little encouragement. And that includes our pets when we're training them.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

The Train for Rewards blog party is all about encouraging people to use rewards when training their companion animals (here's why it's such a good idea).

And although it’s mostly about dogs – because they are the species we devote most time to training – any companion animal can be trained with rewards.

The best reward to use is food. Good food, in fact. (For ideas, see the best dog training treats).

As a society, we have this mythology around dogs that they should just do what we say out of respect and love. The myth that if we have the right personality, dogs will do what we want without them even needing to practice. It doesn’t do us or them any favours.

Dogs and cats are wonderful but they both need motivation in training. That’s why using food is so great: it works.

And it should be good food, like chicken.

Sometimes this surprises people; I am regular…

Interview with Dr. Christy Hoffman

Dr. Christy Hoffman on her research on dog rivalry, how to increase shelter adoptions, and why Anthrozoology is such a fascinating subject.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

I spoke to Dr. Christy Hoffman (Canisius College) about her research on the factors that lead to a successful human-animal relationship.

Zazie: I’m really excited to chat with you! I wanted to start off by talking about your recent study with Dr. Malini Suchak if that’s alright.

Christy: Sure.

Zazie: You were looking at rivalry and decision-making in dogs and you decided to investigate this by looking at dogs that already know each other and in their own homes. Why do you think it’s so important to study canine cognition in the dog’s familiar environment and with dogs that they already know?

Christy: Well, we wanted to do that because, based on our understanding of dog behaviour and experience, relationships are really important when determining kind of the competitive nature of dogs. Because it often depends on who the dogs are in r…

Companion Animal Psychology Book Club June 2017

The book of the month is The Inner Life of Cats by Thomas McNamee.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

The Companion Animal Psychology Book Club choice for June 2017 is The Inner Life of Cats: The Science and Secrets of Our Mysterious Feline Companions by Thomas McNamee.

From the inside cover,
"In The Inner Life of Cats, acclaimed nature writer Thomas McNamee helps us decipher the thoughts and motivations of these often inscrutable creatures, digging deep into emerging (and forgotten) research to reveal what might be driving our cats' actions. McNamee consults the experts, decodes cats' befuddling behaviour (why are they always drawn to the one 'non-cat' person in the room?), and celebrates the unsung heroes who are starting to give us glimpses into what drives our cats to do the things they do." Are you reading alongside us? Please let me know what you think of the book in the comments.

Zazie Todd, PhD, is the author of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy. She is the fou…

Rivalry and Decision-Making in Dogs

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

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…