Companion Animal Psychology News May 2019

Insect-detecting dogs, the challenges of science with cats, and spider's brains...Some of my favourites this month“Three very good dogs – named Bayar, Judd and Sasha – have sniffed out the endangered Alpine Stonefly, one of the smallest animals a dog has been trained to successfully detect in its natural habitat.” Sit! Seek! Fly! Scientists train dogs to sniff out endangered insects by Dr. Julia Mynott.“The cats performed as well as the dogs. But, foreshadowing a…

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Three Important Ways to Give Your Pet Choices

Do you do these three things for your pet?Photo: Anetapics/ShutterstockI just went to brush my tabby cat, Harley, at the usual time of day. He was up in his cat tree and, unusually, did not come down. No matter; I can try again later as he loves to be brushed. Surprisingly, my tortoiseshell cat Melina came running to be brushed. She stood to be brushed, then laid down on her side, all the while purring…

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Fellow Creatures: Two Recent Posts

I have two recent posts at my Psychology Today blog Fellow Creatures.The first post looks at links between a cat owner's personality and their cat's health and behaviour. In particular, when owners have a neurotic personality, this is associated with negative outcomes for their cat. Read more in cat owners,  personality, and pet parenting style.Photo: Yerlin Matu/UnsplashThe second post looks at a recent study of the relationship between military veterans with PTSD and their psychiatric…

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Interview with Cat Warren

Cat Warren on working with her cadaver dog, Solo, and her bestselling book, What the Dog Knows.Cat Warren with RevCat Warren’s New York Times bestseller, What the Dog Knows: Scent, Science, and the Amazing Ways Dogs Perceive the World, was the Companion Animal Psychology Book Club choice for April. I interviewed Warren about her wonderful book, training scent detection dogs, and caring for working dogs’ welfare.The Young Readers Edition of What the Dog Knows will…

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Companion Animal Psychology Book Club May 2019

“A lovely, big-hearted book…brimming with compassion and the tales of the many, many humans who devote their days to making animals well” (The New York Times).This month, the Companion Animal Psychology book club is reading Animal Madness: Inside Their Minds by Laurel Braitman.From the back cover,"Will zoo gorillas laugh if you make faces at them? Can a dog develop Alzheimers? Are some cats as anxious as their owners? Will a parrot feel better on antidepressants?…

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In Training, Pay Your Dog with the Food or Foods They Love, Science Says

Should you use your dog's favourite food or a variety of treats as rewards in training? Scientists find it varies, depending on the dog, but in the long term variety is better.Photo: Dora Zett/ShutterstockWhen training dogs using positive reinforcement, it is important to use good dog training treats in order to motivate the dog. But is it better to use the same food reward every time, or do dogs prefer variety?A study by Annika Bremhorst…

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Eight Ways to Help Your Cat Go to the Vet

If you struggle to take your cat to the vet, here are eight things you can do to help make it less stressful for your cat, including the right way to put them in a carrier.Everyone knows that cats can find vet visits stressful. In one study, most owners said their cat was stressed at the vet and sometimes for some time after getting home (Mariti et al 2016).After last week’s post about dogs at…

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Companion Animal Psychology News April 2019

Cats that fetch, equine therapy, and the joy of dogs... the latest Companion Animal Psychology news.Some of my favourites this month“A tongue-in-cheek NPR.org headline comparing the fetching abilities of cats and dogs revealed a truth known by countless cat owners: Some cats do fetch.” All right, some cats do fetch at NPR by Matthew S Schwartz. “I’m well aware that it just takes one second for trouble to turn into tragedy. In addition, let’s face…

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Making Vet Visits Less Stressful is Essential, and Here’s What We Can Do to Help Dogs

Why we should monitor dogs for signs of stress at the vet, and the steps dog owners and veterinary professionals can take to help, according to a new review of the literature.Many people know their dog is afraid of going to the vet. It’s not surprising because a vet visit is very different from the dog’s usual daily experiences, and yet it’s essential for them to get good veterinary care. A new literature review by…

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Reasons to Be Positive About Being Positive in Dog Training

Why debunking out-dated ideas can backfire, the importance of spreading quality information, and the best ways to counteract the misleading duds.Many dog trainers who rely on using reward-based methods feel passionately about the importance of using humane methods that don’t cause dogs to experience fear or pain. Thus, they feel it strongly when people use or share articles about methods that involve shock collars, dominance, pack ‘theory’, or any form of positive punishment, because they…

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