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Companion Animal Psychology News December 2018

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The mirror test, what we know about dogs, and some Christmas videos... the latest newsletter from Companion Animal Psychology.





By Zazie Todd, PhD
Some of my favourites from around the web this month
"“There are researchers who, it seems, do not want fish to be included in this secret club,” he said. “Because then that means that the [primates] are not so special anymore.”" A ‘self-aware’ fish raises doubts about a cognitive test by Elizabeth Preston

“A while ago I saw a dog training guide that recommended that someone put a shock collar on their puppy and then hold down the shock button…” Yes, I’m angry about that training advice by Kristi Benson CTC

“It may start as nothing but a temporary relief or a distraction, but it may also grow into a newfound appetite for life.” How to get your anxious dog to play by Sylvie Martin CTC at Crosspaws Dogs (don’t miss the lovely video). 

"The main point is that there aren't any definite answers to many questions about dog…

Don't Punish Your Dog for Peeing in the House

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Why punishment is the wrong approach for house training mistakes, and how you should house train your dog or puppy instead.


By Zazie Todd, PhD

How should we house train puppies, and deal with the inevitable mistakes that puppies and adult dogs can have? Suppose your dog suddenly starts to pee in the house. You clean it up the first time but it happens again…. And then again.

Or your new puppy keeps having accidents indoors even though you take her outside often.

In this situation, some people will yell at their dog. Some might even try physical punishment like hitting the dog or an alpha roll. And we’ve all come across the advice that you should rub their nose in it.

Don’t do it.

Whether you're toilet training an adult dog or house training a puppy, here’s why that’s the wrong approach, and what you should do instead.

Punishment can make things worse First of all, let’s think about it from the dog’s perspective.

Suppose they pee in the house and you yell at them. What do they learn…

Fellow Creatures: A New Post

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I have a new post at my Psychology Today blog Fellow Creatures about a study that looked at whether a dog walking program has benefits for people with intellectual disabilities who live in supported housing.

The results of this exploratory study found there were more friendly interactions with other people when a dog was present. Read more here.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

This page contains affiliate links.

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 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 store As an Amazon Assoc…

Dogs, Cats and Humans: The Best Sleep Partner...?

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Women whose dog sleeps on the bed report better sleep than those with a human or feline sleeping partner.


By Zazie Todd, PhD

Whether or not pets should be allowed to sleep on the bed is an age-old question. Some worry it will lead to a disturbed night’s sleep, while some old-fashioned dog trainers still claim it will spoil the dog. The latter argument is based on out-dated ideas about dominance and dog training and can be easily dismissed, but the issue of sleep quality is starting to get researchers attention.

A new study by Dr. Christy Hoffman (Canisius College) et al and published in Anthrozoƶs asked women about who sleeps in/on the bed with them and how good they thought their sleep was over the previous month.

The results show dogs are a less disruptive sleep partner than another human, while cats are just as disruptive as humans. Dogs are perceived as providing more comfort and security than another human, while cats provide even less.

This page contains affiliate links.

Not only …

Companion Animal Psychology Book Club December 2018

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“A masterful account of the way science is revealing just how smart dogs can be."



By Zazie Todd, PhD

This page contains affiliate links.

“A masterful account of the way science is revealing just how smart dogs can be. Fascinating and highly readable.”--John Bradshaw.

The Companion Animal Psychology Book Club choice for December 2018 is The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter Than You Think by Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods.

From the inside cover,
""My dog can do that."  So said a young Brian Hare to his professor who was studying animal behavior - and a revolution in our scientific understanding of dog intelligence began. Specifically, Brian Hare's dog, Oreo, could read human gestures that monkeys were blind to. The years of research that followed took Hare around the world and changed forever what we know of how dogs think and what they understand. This book is the masterfully told story of t his revolution and the new riches it brings to our relationship with do…

Fellow Creatures: A New Post

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I  have a new post at my Psychology Today blog Fellow Creatures on a wonderful initiative to interest girls in science, via canine science.

All this month, the bloggers behind Do You Believe in Dog?, Mia Cobb and Julie Hecht, are sharing inspiring quotes from female canine scientists to encourage girls to get into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. They are using a girl's best friend to encourage girls to be scientists.



This page contains affiliate links.

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 and two cats.

Useful links:
Check out what the Animal Book Club is reading this monthGet C…

What Are the Five Freedoms (and What do they Mean to You?)

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The five freedoms of animal welfare, the one most people miss, and what it means for pet owners.


By Zazie Todd, PhD

When you get a new puppy or kitten, no one tells you your new pet has five main welfare needs that need to be met. But maybe they should, because they provide a framework for how we should care for dogs, cats, and other pets. Read on to find out what they are, how many pet owners know them, and why they matter to you.

The Five Freedoms The Five Freedoms were originally defined by the UK’s Farm Animal Welfare Council in the 1960s, and subsequently updated. They are now understood to apply to the welfare of all animals, not just livestock.

The Five Freedoms are:
Freedom from hunger and thirst, by ready access to water and a diet to maintain health and vigour. Freedom from discomfort, by providing an appropriate environment. Freedom from pain, injury and disease, by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment. Freedom to express normal behaviour, by providing sufficient space…