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Companion Animal Psychology Book Club December 2017

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"...a clarion call for reassessing both how we view animals and how we treat them."



This month, the Companion Animal Psychology Book Club is reading The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy ― and Why They Matter by Marc Bekoff (with a foreward by Jane Goodall).

From the cover,
"Based on award-winning scientist Marc Bekoff’s years studying social communication in a wide range of species, this important book shows that animals have rich emotional lives. Bekoff skillfully blends extraordinary stories of animal joy, empathy, grief, embarrassment, anger, and love with the latest scientific research confirming the existence of emotions that common sense and experience have long implied. Filled with Bekoff’s light humor and touching stories, The Emotional Lives of Animals is a clarion call for reassessing both how we view animals and how we treat them." Will you be reading the book alongside us? Leave your thoughts on th…

Extra Early Socialization for Puppies Makes a Big Difference

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Research on a new program for socializing puppies in the nest finds it brings big benefits.


A new study by Dr. Helen Vaterlaws-Whiteside and Amandine Hartmann (Guide Dogs National Breeding Centre) (2017) tests an improved program for socializing puppies in the nest from 0 – 6 weeks. The program provides additional socialization in a way that is relatively cheap, easy to implement, and designed to fit with what science tells us about the development of puppies.

In comparison to puppies receiving the regular socialization program, the puppies who got extra socialization got better scores in tests at 6 weeks old. By 8 months of age they were less likely to have separation-related behaviours, general anxiety, be distracted, or have body sensitivity.

In other words, the extra socialization brought important benefits for their behavioural welfare as young adult dogs. These results will be of particular interest to those who breed and train service dogs, but they are important for anyone who…

Escaping Dogs: Some Fences Are Better Than Others

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A physical fence is more secure than an electronic fence, according to a study with important implications for dog owners.



The survey, by Dr. Nicole Starinksy (Ohio State University) et al, asked 974 dog owners about how they kept their dogs confined to the yard, whether they had escaped – and whether they had ever bitten someone.

The results showed that an electronic fence was the least effective method of containing a dog: 44% of dogs contained by one had escaped. Dogs were less likely to have escaped from a tether (27%) or from a see-through fence (e.g. chain link or slatted wood) (23%) or a privacy fence that is not see-through (also 23%).

The report states,
“Regardless of their level of training, dogs are never 100% consistent in their responses. An electric shock from an electronic fence system may be a sufficient deterrent to prevent a dog from escaping under normal circumstances, but may not be when the incentive to escape (eg, the chance to chase another dog or person) is par…

Companion Animal Psychology News November 2017

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Make sure you haven't missed a thing with the latest newsletter from Companion Animal Psychology.




Some of my favourites from around the web this month
“Nobody wants to say goodbye to these adorable dogs for ever, but the truth is that it’s wrong to create animals that are destined to suffer.” Veterinarian Pete Wedderburn on how to improve the health of brachycephalic breeds such as Pugs and Bulldogs.

Dogs can promote friendliness just by hanging out by John Bradshaw PhD

Important take-aways from a separation anxiety journey by Tracy Krulik CTC. Emma’s Separation Anxiety Story: Epilogue.

“When people don’t notice fear in dogs, it can cause trouble.” The scariest thing, according to dogs by Julie Hecht.

Do dogs really manipulate us? Beware misleading headlines. Marc Bekoff PhD engages with his readers about reporting on two recent studies.

“Say you and I both live in houses made of banana peels….” Self-help for humans is good for dogs by Kristi Benson CTC

“The ginger creature appea…

Five Things To Do For Your Cat Today

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Want to make your cat happier? Here are some things you can do right now to make your feline feel blissful.



Cats are wonderful creatures. When we understand them, we can use that information to make them happier. Here are five things to do for your cat today – and a bonus one to work on over time.

1. Make time to play with your cat
11% of cats have no toys, according to one study (Howell et al 2016).

But the average cat has 7 toys, and toy mice are the most popular. (Strickler and Shull 2014)

Even if your cat has lots of toys of their own, they still like it when their human plays with them. 64% of the owners in Strickler and Shull’s study played with their cat twice a day, but playtime typically lasted 5 or 10 minutes. Amongst people who played with their cat for at least 5 minutes instead of just 1 minute, there were fewer behaviour problems.

But your cat would probably like an even longer play time.

Have you ever felt that when you are moving a toy for your cat, they seem to be hunti…

Why Do Dogs Play?

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A new paper finds there are many reasons why dogs play – and play is not always a sign of good welfare.



There’s nothing cuter than watching puppies play together. But why do they do it? It turns out play has several functions, not just one. A new review, by Rebecca Sommerville (Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh) et al, considers four theories about why dogs play, and finds evidence in support of three of them.

Rebecca Sommerville told me in an email,
“We found, by reviewing a large body of research, that play is not one type of behaviour – there are several types that each serve a different purpose. Despite popular belief, a dog playing is not necessarily a sign that everything is well. Playing alone can be a sign of boredom, whilst play with other dogs has potential to be one sided. Regular, real play between a dog and owner does not revolve around commands, and is important to strengthen their bond.”
Four theories of why dogs play
The paper looks at …

Companion Animal Psychology Book Club November 2017

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"It will forever change how we see our aquatic cousins - the pet goldfish included."



The Companion Animal Psychology Book Club choice for November 2017 is What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins by Jonathan Balcombe.

From the back cover,
"Do fishes think? Do they really have three-second memories? And can they recognize the humans who peer back at them from above the surface of the water? In What a Fish Knows, the myth-busting ethologist Jonathan Balcombe addresses these questions and more, taking us under the sea, through streams and estuaries, and to the other side of the aquarium glass to reveal the surprising capabilities of fishes. Teeming with insights and exciting discoveries, What a Fish Knows offers a thoughtful appraisal of our relationships with fishes and the planet's increasingly imperiled marine life. It will forever change how we see our aquatic cousins - the pet goldfish included."
Why not join us in reading the book? You ca…