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Companion Animal Psychology News November 2018

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Women in canine science, people who care for parrots, dogs in Paris, and more... the latest news from Companion Animal Psychology.



By Zazie Todd, PhD
Some of my favourites from around the web this month
"Clearly - dogs are awesome. So is science!" Women are thriving in canine science - tell a girl you know! At Do You Believe in Dog?, Mia Cobb and Julie Hecht are celebrating the women in canine science, and encouraging girls to get interested in a career in science. Don't miss the daily inspiring quotes on their Facebook and Twitter feeds.

“...it is the only study I know of which has demonstrated that petting and playing with a therapy dog can reduce human distress even when the interactions are not facilitated by a sympathetic handler” How important is the animal in animal-assisted therapy?Hal Herzog on an important new study that tests the use of therapy dogs with children. A must-read.

"This way of structuring veterinary and animal science as subjects within animal…

Do dogs run faster for more treats or better quality treats?

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Scientists find out which rewards dogs will run faster for, and the results explain why you need to use good treats in dog training.


By Zazie Todd, PhD

Modern dog trainers use positive reinforcement to train dogs, and that reinforcement often takes the form of food (see the ultimate dog training tip to find out why).

When you want a dog to come when you call them, you want to use your best training treats as a reward.

But scientists have paid surprisingly little attention to what dogs consider worth working for – until now.

A recent paper by Dr. Stefanie Riemer et al, published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science, looks at the relative effectiveness of quality and quantity of reinforcement as measured by how fast dogs run to the bowl they can eat it from.


Pet dogs were trained to run along a walkway that was 20 metres long in order to obtain food. The type of food (quantity or quality) was shown by the containers that were visible to the dog from the start position.

The first study com…

Celebrating Two Years of the Animal Book Club

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Great books about animals, discussed amongst friends… The Companion Animal Psychology Book  Club is two years old.



By Zazie Todd, PhD

This month the Companion Animal Psychology Book Club is two years old.

I started the book club in November 2016, intending it to be a small group. Within a couple of days several hundred people had joined and I stopped accepting new members because I did not want the group to get too big.

The first book was The Trainable Cat by John Bradshaw and Sarah Ellis, which remains one of my favourites of all the ones we’ve read. Other personal favourites include Being a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz, How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog) by Lee Dugatkin and Lyudmila Trut, and Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat by Hal Herzog. I was also pleased to re-read Plenty in Life Is Free by Kathy Sdao with the book club.

But it's really hard to pick favourites because I've enjoyed them all, and every single one is well worth reading! Rather than mention them all here…

How to Feed Your Cat: The Modern Guide to Feline Foraging

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The best way to feed cats has changed. Instead of leaving kibble in a bowl, here’s what you should do now.



By Zazie Todd, PhD

It used to be simple: put kibble in a bowl and leave it out all day.

But that’s not how we should be feeding our pet cats. A new consensus statement from the American Association of Feline Practitioners explains the way we feed cats now.

The AAFP says are several reasons to think more carefully about you feed your cat. One is the increase in overweight and obesity in pet cats, which is bad for their health (see: how to help a fat cat lose weight).

Another reason is that using food puzzles for cats is a great enrichment activity that engages cats’ hunting instincts. This is especially important now that most pet cats are kept indoors for a lot or all of the time.

As well, having the right feeding system can help to keep feline stress levels low. This is especially important in households with more than one cat.

Read on to find out the modern way to feed a cat.



Us…

Companion Animal Psychology Book Club November 2018

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"The most scientifically important dog in over a century." —Brian Hare.



By Zazie Todd, PhD

The Companion Animal Psychology Book Club choice for November 2018 is Chaser: Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand Words by John W. Pilley with Hilary Hinzmann.
From the back cover,  "Chaser has fascinated dog lovers and scientists alike. Her story reveals the potential for taking out dialogue with dogs well beyond "fetch." When retired psychology professor John Pilley first got his new Border collie puppy, Chaser, he wanted to explore the boundaries of language learning and communication between humans and man's best friend. Exhibiting intelligence previously thought impossible in dogs, Chaser soon learned the names of more than a thousand toys and sentences with multiple elements of grammar. Chaser's accomplishments are revolutionizing the way we think about the intelligence of animals. John and Chaser's inspiring journey demonstrates the pow…

Can Synthetic Pheromones Help With Aggression in Multi-Cat Households?

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Promising results from a pilot study of synthetic cat-appeasing pheromones (Feliway Multicat) for aggression between cats that live together.


By Zazie Todd, PhD

Cat owners know only too well that cats can be choosy. As solitary hunters, the domestic cat can do just fine alone and does not have to be friends with other members of the species. On the other hand, cats can live in social groups, especially in colonies of female cats and their offspring, when female cats will help care for each other’s young.

Many people have multiple pet cats and they aren’t always friends. It is obvious cats don’t get along if they fight. But there are also more subtle signs of cat aggression, such as when one cat blocks another cat’s access to a resource like the litter box. As well as bouts of aggression, when cats don’t get along they may hold urine for too long, pee outside the box, suffer feline idiopathic cystitis, over-eat or lose weight, or sometimes (if they have outdoors access) one of them may …

Companion Animal Psychology News October 2018

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The latest news including an evidence-based guide to pets, what it's like growing up with wolves, and anxiety in pets and us.



By Zazie Todd, PhD
Some of my favourites from around the web this month
The Psychologist guide to … pets. I love these evidence-based tips on pets put together by Ella Rhodes.

“Fido” or “Freddie”? Why do some pet names become popular? A fun and interesting post from Prof. Hal Herzog, complete with a quiz to test how popular your dogs’ names are.

Do you want to know what the umwelt of a dog is? And what canine science experiments look like? The Scientist Podcast interviews Dr. Alexandra Horowitz

“Treating my cat for depression caused me to question the state of anxiety in animals and us.” Can a cat have an existential crisis? by Britt Peterson.

Secrets of getting pee and poop samples from Fear Free. A tricky thing that many pet owners have to do sooner or later… what to do next time you need to take a sample to the vet.

Caring for senior and geriatric cats by