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Companion Animal Psychology Book Club March 2019

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"To live in harmony with our cats... we first need to understand their inherited quirks." By Zazie Todd, PhD This page contains affiliate links. This month, the Companion Animal Psychology Book Club has chosen Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet by John Bradshaw. From the back cover, "In Cat Sense, renowned anthrozoologist John Bradshaw takes us further into the mind of the domestic cat than ever before, using cutting-edge scientific research to dispel lingering myths and explain the true nature of our feline friends. Tracing the cat's evolution from lone predator to domesticated companion, Bradshaw shows that although cats and humans have lived together for eight thousand years, cats remain independent, predatory, and wary of contact with their own kind, qualities that often clash with our modern lifestyles. To live in harmony with our cats, Bradshaw explains, we first need to understand their inherited quir

Into the Middle of Things: Dog Training Lessons from the Best Fiction

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Why dog trainers are like stalwart detectives, and how it all begins mid-scene. Guest post by Kristi Benson CTC Special Correspondent Photo: Anna Goroshnikova/Shutterstock A while ago, a client got in touch asking for help with the family dog . The dog was a young and lovely Golden retriever, smart as a whip and sweet as pie. The problem? He was barking. A lot. As I packed up my bag of tricks, I grabbed a few different hand-outs to make sure I had all the usual suspects covered: boredom barking? Check. Fearful barking? Check. Guarding, alarm, attention, and play? Check, check, check. My bait bag and some treats followed the hand-outs into my bag and I was off to the races. When a story  begins in the middle of some action, it’s called “in medias res”, which is a Latin term meaning "into the middle of things". Have you ever read a thriller that opens with the characters sitting around a table in a tense meeting of political hotshots? Or a murder mystery starting w

Cats Trained to Use Their Carriers Find Vet Visits Less Stressful

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Training cats to go in their carrier and for a short car ride leads to less stressful visits to the vet, study shows. Photo:eAlisa/Shutterstock By Zazie Todd, PhD When it’s time for cats to go to the vet, many owners struggle. It can be almost impossible to get the cat in the carrier (or even locate them if they flee at the sight of it). And this stress is a bad start to a vet visit that will likely be stressful in itself. But research by Dr. Lydia Pratsch and colleagues at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna shows there is something that can be done: Train the cat to use their carrier. In a blinded, randomized controlled trial, 11 cats were trained to use the cat carrier, while 11 cats were in a control group that was not trained. All 22 cats had a mock visit to the vet. The results showed cat carrier training reduces stress. The scientists write, “Training proved to be effective in reducing stress during the car ride and led to a shorter veterinary exami

Companion Animal Psychology News February 2019

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Dog training standards, the puppy brain, and the crow that called for food… the latest Companion Animal Psychology news. By Zazie Todd, PhD   Favourites from around the web this month These are my favourite articles, photos and podcasts about animals this month. As usual, I've included links to people's Twitter accounts so you can easily follow them. "A new training program from Canada's BC SPCA is a model for all to follow.” At Psychology Today ,  Dr. Marc Bekoff interviews Dr. Karen van Haaften and Dr. Sara Dubois of the BC SPCA about their new AnimalKind accreditation scheme for dog trainers in BC. In very cold temperatures, does dog urine do what boiling water does? Find out in, What happens when it’s 30 below and the dog’s gotta go? By Karin Brulliard  at The Washington Post . “The puppy brain still has a lot of developing to do after birth, and understanding that process is important to raising confident, well-adjusted dogs.” Fear, stress, and

Breed Specific Legislation Had No Effect on Dog Bites in Odense, Denmark

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In 2010, Denmark banned 13 breeds of dog. It made no difference to hospitalizations for dog bites. Photo: sanjagrujic/Shutterstock By Zazie Todd, PhD One approach that some countries or municipalities take to attempt to reduce injuries from dog bites is to ban certain breeds, known as Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). A new study by Dr. Finn Nilson   (Karlstad University) et al investigates the effects of BSL in Denmark’s third-largest city, Odense. The results show that it had no effect on hospitalizations for dog bites. In 2010, Denmark banned the ownership, breeding and import of 13 breeds of dog , including the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasiliero and American Bulldog. Two of those breeds, the Pitbull Terrier and the Tosa Inu, had to be euthanized. Any existing pets of the remaining 11 breeds could be kept, but they had to be muzzled and leashed in public. Dr. Finn Nilson told me in an email, “The findings in our article largely sup

New Study Identifies our Different Ethical Beliefs about Animals

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New research finds four ethical orientations towards animals, and some surprising links to cat and dog ownership and to other behaviours such as eating “welfare-friendly” meat. By Zazie Todd, PhD We all have different views about what we think are ethical ways to treat animals. New research by Dr. Thomas B√łker Lund et al. (University of Copenhagen), published today in PLOS ONE, finds four different ethical orientations that are commonly held by the general public. The results show just how complicated our ethical beliefs about animals are – and include some surprising results. Two of the different orientations will probably be familiar: Anthropocentrism – the idea that “human beings matter most”. This view may stem from religious beliefs or from beliefs that humans and animals are different, with humans being considered rational and more important than non-human animals. Animal rights – this approach values all animals and argues that as sentient beings, animals also