Posts

To gesture or not to gesture in dog training?

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Are visual cues more effective than verbal cues in dog training?

Guest post by Sienna Taylor, MSc (Hartpury University Centre).


A new study by Anna Scandurra (University of Naples) et al. investigates whether visual cues as opposed to verbal cues are more effective when dogs are trained to fetch an item under four conditions: using only hand cues, using only verbal cues, using both hand and verbal cues and using contradictory hand and verbal cues.

It turns out that dogs responded better to visual hand gestures than verbal cues although speed of response was quicker when both hand and verbal cues were used together.

Many pet owners teach their dogs to respond to both visual and verbal cues, for example, an owner might ask their dog to lie on the floor by simply using the verbal command “Lie Down” or alternatively using a hand gesture such as pointing or perhaps a combination of both!  Whilst dogs do use vocalisations to communicate (such as attracting attention, with vocalisations usual…

Question Assumptions and Change Misconceptions

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The latest in the 'better world' series about dogs and cats.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

For more information, you can read how to make the world better for dogs and how to make the world better for cats.



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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Do Some Cats Respond Quietly to Catnip?

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Young kittens don't have an active response to catnip. But if you think your cat does not respond to catnip, maybe it's just a quiet response, according to a recent study.


By Zazie Todd, PhD

It is widely believed some cats respond to catnip and some cats don’t. A recent study throws that into question by suggesting almost all cats respond to catnip – it’s just that some of them do so in a quiet manner. While more research is needed, the study also finds young kittens (less than 3 months) do not have the active response to catnip.

The classic catnip response is an active one that typically involves rolling around, rubbing the chin or cheek on the catnip, sniffing or licking the catnip, shaking the head from side to side, drooling, bunny-kicking and/or rippling skin on the back. This response to catnip is seen in about two thirds of cats. It is inherited – and it is also seen in some other feline species such as Bobcats.

A 2017 study by Luz Teresa EspĂ­n-Iturbe (Universidad Veracr…

Think Dog and the Role of Food

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The latest in the 'better world' series about dogs and cats.

By Zazie Todd, PhD


These are the latest images in the series about how to make the world better for dogs and how to make the world better for cats.

You can read the full quotes on those posts. I'm working through each expert answer in random order, so stay tuned for more!



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.

Useful links:
Check out what the Animal Book Club is reading this monthGet Companion Animal Psychology merchSupport me on Ko-fiVisit my Amazon storeThis page contains affiliate links.
As an Amazon Associate I earn…

Companion Animal Psychology Book Club February 2018

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"...Bradshaw explains how an affinity for animals drove human evolution and how now, without animals around us, we risk losing an essential part of ourselves."



By Zazie Todd, PhD

The Companion Animal Psychology Book Club choice for February 2018 is The Animals Among Us: How Pets Make Us Human by John Bradshaw. In the UK, the title is The Animals Among Us: The New Science of Anthrozoology.

This page contains affiliate links.

From the inside cover,
"In The Animals Among Us, anthrozoologist John Bradshaw argues that pet-keeping is nothing less than an intrinsic part of human nature. Throughout history, empathy for animals has increased our ability to survive. As our relationship with animals evolved, from the earliest domestication of wild animals thousands of years ago to the ubiquity of modern household pets, this connection grew ever stronger. Today, we can no more set aside the attachment that many of us feel for animals than we can ignore our sweet tooth.  Drawing on th…

Dogs' Attention Declines with Age - But Training Helps

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Older dogs with a history of lifelong training perform better on measures of attention.


By Zazie Todd, PhD

We know that as people get older, they may experience cognitive decline including in attention. We are used to hearing that doing lots of different activities that engage the brain may help to ward off some of these changes. It turns out that may also be the case for dogs.

As dogs get older, they experience a decline in attention just as older people do. But lifelong training can help to prevent this decline, according to research published last year by scientists at the Messerli Research Institute at the Vetmeduni Vienna. This is good news, because attention is important for human-canine communication and for other processes.


The study took pet dogs aged between 6 and just over 14 years. They were divided into 3 age groups: late adulthood (between 6 and 8 years), seniors (8 up until 10 years), and geriatric (10 years or over). There were 75 Border collies (59 of which were tested…

Proper Socialization and Listen Harder

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The latest in the 'better world' series about dogs and cats.

By Zazie Todd, PhD



These are the latest images in the series about how to make the world better for dogs and how to make the world better for cats.
If you would like to share them, simply mouse over the image, or you can share direct from my Facebook or Twitter feeds if you prefer.


I have not had much time for blogging lately because of other commitments, but I am working on some future posts. Be sure to check back next week!
Meanwhile, if there are any topics you would like to see covered on Companion Animal Psychology, please let me know either in the comments below, or subscribers can simply hit the reply button to send me an email. 

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 ha…