Companion Animal Psychology Blog

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99 posts · 64,140 views

This blog takes a scientific approach to understanding the behaviour of companion animals, especially dogs and cats. Topics include dog training, animal cognition, environmental enrichment for indoor cats, the development of kittens and puppies, the effects of the recession on pets, and how dogs can motivate people to exercise. Follow this blog to keep up-to-date on the research on companion animals and their relationship with people.

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  • August 6, 2014
  • 08:30 AM
  • 122 views

Is it Important to Attend Puppy Class?

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Is a one-off puppy party a suitable alternative to a six-week puppy class? Research says you can’t skip the socialization if you want a well-rounded adult dog.Photo: Zuzule / ShutterstockA study by Ai Kutsumi et al (2013) of the Azabu University Graduate School of Veterinary Science compares four groups of dogs: those who attended a six-week puppy class, those who went to a one-hour puppy party, those who attended a six-week adult dog training class, and those who didn’t attend any pup........ Read more »

KUTSUMI, A., NAGASAWA, M., OHTA, M., & OHTANI, N. (2013) Importance of Puppy Training for Future Behavior of the Dog. Journal of Veterinary Medical Science, 75(2), 141-149. DOI: 10.1292/jvms.12-0008  

  • July 30, 2014
  • 08:30 AM
  • 97 views

The Attentive Look of a Dog in Training

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Researchers investigate the body language of a dog that is performing well in training.Photo: Markus Balint / ShutterstockA new study puts dogs through the first stage of a basic training task and analyzes eye contact and posture in the most successful dogs. The research by Masashi Hasegawa et al (Azabu University School of Veterinary Medicine) is motivated by a desire to improve people’s training abilities by helping them recognize the posture associated with successful learning. O........ Read more »

  • July 23, 2014
  • 11:54 AM
  • 174 views

The Adolescent Dog: One Last Chance?

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

A synthesis of the latest research on social influences on development suggests adolescence is an important time for mammals – including dogs.Photo: dezi / ShutterstockMost people are familiar with the idea of a sensitive period for puppies that ends around 12 or 14 weeks. Is it possible that adolescence is also an important period for brain development and future behaviour?Social experience plays an important role in shaping animal behaviour throughout development according to Sachser et al (........ Read more »

  • July 16, 2014
  • 08:30 AM
  • 131 views

Do Puppy Tests Predict Adult Dog Behaviour?

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

A new study follows dogs from neonates to adults to find out if puppy tests predict adult behaviour.Photo: Mikkel Bigandt / ShutterstockLots of people want to know if a puppy’s behaviour will tell you what it will be like as an adult dog. From people choosing a pet dog from a breeder’s litter, to organizations training service, police or military dogs, making the right choice of puppy could really help later on. But there have long been concerns that puppy personality tests don’t necessari........ Read more »

McMillan, F., Serpell, J., Duffy, D., Masaoud, E., & Dohoo, I. (2013) Differences in behavioral characteristics between dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores and those obtained from noncommercial breeders. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 242(10), 1359-1363. info:/

  • July 9, 2014
  • 08:30 AM
  • 124 views

Sub-Optimal Choice in Dogs: Cheese or Cheese and Carrot?

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Evidence suggests dogs do not always make the best choice. A new study finds that far as food choice is concerned, they use the same heuristic previously demonstrated in humans and monkeys. Photo: Igor Sokolov (breeze) / ShutterstockEarlier research has found that if people are asked to estimate the value of a set of 24 good condition dishes vs a set of 40 dishes (of which 31 are in good condition), they tend to think the former is more valuable. The broken dishes seem to detract ........ Read more »

  • June 25, 2014
  • 08:30 AM
  • 147 views

Do Children Help Care for the Family Pet?

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

…Or does mom do it all?Photo: Samuel Borges Photography / ShutterstockHow should children learn to take some responsibility for family pets? New research by Janine Muldoon et al (University of St Andrews) investigates children’s perspectives of the division of labour in relation to their pets.The exploratory study involved focus groups with children aged 7, 9, 11 and 13. The researchers planned equal numbers of boys and girls, but constraints meant that 30 girls and only 23 boys took part.&n........ Read more »

  • June 18, 2014
  • 08:30 AM
  • 178 views

The Effects of Canine Personality and Joint Activities on the Dog-Owner Relationship

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

A new study in Denmark by Iben Meyer and Bjørn Forkman (University of Copenhagen) investigates the influence of owner characteristics and canine personality on the relationship between dogs and their owners.Photo: Martin Valigursky / ShutterstockThe study of 421 dog owners aged 18 to 75 used data from dog personality tests taken between six months and two-and-a-half years earlier, and a questionnaire of owners that included the Monash Dog Owner Relationship Scale. The dogs were all pedigrees si........ Read more »

Meyer, I., & Forkman, B. (2014) Dog and owner characteristics affecting the dog–owner relationship. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research. DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2014.03.002  

  • June 11, 2014
  • 11:47 AM
  • 183 views

Do Dogs Get that Eureka! Feeling?

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Does successful problem solving make dogs happy?Photo: Mackland / ShutterstockNew research by Ragen McGowan et al (University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden) investigates whether dogs enjoy the experience of solving a problem in order to obtain a reward, or if it is just the reward itself that makes them happy.Rather unusually, the idea came from a study that found cattle who completed a task to earn a reward seemed to be happier than those who just received the reward. The design of McG........ Read more »

  • June 4, 2014
  • 08:30 AM
  • 189 views

Is Cruelty to Animals in Childhood a Predictor of Later Criminal Behaviour?

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Does cruelty to animals as a child predict interpersonal violence in adulthood?Photo: Rita Kochmarjova / ShutterstockNew research by Kelly Knight, Colter Ellis and Sara Simmons (Sam Houston State University) investigates how many children are cruel to animals and whether it persists through generations. The study is especially valuable because it uses a sample that is representative of the US population and tracks families over the years.There are two main theories about childhood cruelty to ani........ Read more »

  • May 28, 2014
  • 08:30 AM
  • 174 views

What was the Role of Cats in Anglo Saxon England?

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Fascinating new research investigates what the archaeological record tells us about people and cats in Anglo Saxon times. Was the human-feline relationship very different from today?Photo: aleksandr hunta / ShutterstockNew research by Kristopher Poole (University of Nottingham) investigates the role of cats in Anglo Saxon England. The period from AD 410 until the Norman invasion of 1066 was a time of great change. The Roman Empire had lost its control and many people immigrated to England, parti........ Read more »

  • May 21, 2014
  • 08:30 AM
  • 200 views

Did Dogs, Cats and Cows Predict the M9 Earthquake in Japan in 2011?

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Is it possible that animals had advance warning of the Tohoku earthquake?Photo: Paul Atkinson / ShutterstockThere have long been reports of animals behaving strangely before large quakes, including an account of snakes, weasels and rats leaving home prior to an earthquake in Greece in 373BC. But there is still a lack of scientific evidence.  A new study in Japan investigates pet owners’ reports of cat and dog behaviour, and changes in dairy milk production, before the magnitude 9 earthqua........ Read more »

Yamauchi, H., Uchiyama, H., Ohtani, N., & Ohta, M. (4) Unusual animal behaviour preceding the 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tohoku, Japan: A way to predict the approach of large earthquakes. Animals, 131-145. info:/

  • May 14, 2014
  • 08:30 AM
  • 189 views

Guinea Pigs and Domestication

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Domestication changes animals in many ways. We still don’t fully understand how – or when, or where – the dog was domesticated. But it turns out the guinea pig is the guinea pig of domestication research as scientists compare guinea pigs to their wild cousins, cavies.Photo: Ase / ShutterstockA new paper by Benjamin Zipser et al (University of Münster, Germany) compares adolescent guinea pigs and wild cavies. Previous research has found differences between adult guinea pigs and cavies in t........ Read more »

  • May 7, 2014
  • 08:30 AM
  • 257 views

What Do People Look for When Adopting a Dog?

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

A study of over 2000 shelter dogs investigates the physical and behavioural characteristics that make dogs get rehomed faster. Some of the results may surprise you.Photo: Melissa King / ShutterstockA recent study by Christina Siettou et al (University of Kent) uses techniques from consumer analysis to gain a better understanding of people’s choices when adopting a dog from a shelter.  The researchers looked at the different characteristics of dogs waiting for homes and compared it to the ........ Read more »

  • April 30, 2014
  • 08:30 AM
  • 241 views

Feeding the Felines: Does Food Intake Change with the Seasons?

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Do you ever feel like you want to eat more in the winter than in summer? It could be that your cat is the same.Photo: Nadezhda Nesterova / ShutterstockNew research by Samuel Serisier et al (2014) investigates how much cats choose to eat at different times of year. The results show seasonal variations in food intake in cats that were allowed free access to food.The study took place over a four-year period in the South of France. 38 cats took part, including 7 Bengal cats, 6 European shortha........ Read more »

  • April 23, 2014
  • 08:30 AM
  • 245 views

What Is A Typical Animal Hoarder?

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Sometimes we hear their cases on the news – dozens of sick and frightened dogs or cats removed from the home of an animal hoarder. But is there a typical profile, and how big is the problem?A study by Calvo et al (2014) investigates 24 cases of animal hoarding in Spain between 2002 and 2011. Photo: schankz / ShutterstockAnimal hoarding is not simply having large numbers of pets; it also involves a lack of care for those pets, such that they are sick, not receiving veterinary care and livi........ Read more »

Calvo, P., Duarte, C., Bowen, J., Bulbena, A., & Fatjó, J. (2014) Characteristics of 24 cases of animal hoarding in Spain. Animal Welfare, 23(2), 199-208. DOI: 10.7120/09627286.23.2.199  

  • April 16, 2014
  • 08:30 AM
  • 320 views

Does Animal-Assisted Therapy Help At-Risk Boys?

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

If existing behavioural programs aren’t working, can therapeutic sessions with a dog help boys who have problems at school?Photo: criben / ShutterstockA new paper by Abbey Schneider et al (2014) investigates the success of a program designed to help boys who are considered ‘at-risk’ – by matching them up with a specially trained dog and handler.In Colorado, a group of elementary schools take part in a program called the Human Animal Bond in Colorado (HABIC). It is designed to help ........ Read more »

Schneider, A.A.,, Rosenberg, J., Baker, M., Melia, N., Granger, B., & Biringen, Z. (2014) Becoming relationally effective: High-risk boys in animal-assisted therapy. Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin, 2(1), 1-18. info:/

  • April 9, 2014
  • 08:30 AM
  • 889 views

How Clever Do You Think Your Dog Is?

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Maybe as smart as a four year old child?Photo: DragoNika / ShutterstockCanine researchers have been investigating dogs’ cognitive abilities: whether they can solve puzzles, recognize our emotions, and so on. But are ordinary people aware of these findings, and do they have a realistic view of dogs? A paper by Tiffani Howell (Monash University) et al investigates owner’s beliefs about their dog’s intelligence.The research, published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, involved a web surv........ Read more »

Howell, T., Toukhsati, S., Conduit, R., & Bennett, P. (2013) The Perceptions of Dog Intelligence and Cognitive Skills (PoDIaCS) Survey. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 8(6), 418-424. DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2013.05.005  

  • April 2, 2014
  • 08:30 AM
  • 277 views

How About that Doggy at the Hair Salon?

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Can we speed up the process of re-homing shelter dogs by getting the dog out of the shelter and into the community?Photo: AdamEdwards / ShutterstockEvery year, many dogs find new homes through animal rescues and shelters, but some have a long wait and many are never re-homed.  What if there was a way to free up shelter space and encourage people who would not visit the shelter to adopt? A new paper by Heather Mohan-Gibbons et al (2014) assesses the success of a scheme in which dogs were mov........ Read more »

  • March 26, 2014
  • 08:30 AM
  • 299 views

Animals, Pets and Vermin

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

What do animals mean to you and what role do they play in your life? These and related questions were recently asked of ordinary people by the Mass Observation Project in the UK, and the results, in a paper by Alison Sealey and Nickie Charles, are fascinating.Photo: pjmorley / ShutterstockSince 1937, the Mass Observation Projecthas been collecting information from ordinary people about life in Britain. Set up with the idea of creating “an anthropology of ourselves,” data collection con........ Read more »

Sealey, A., & Charles, N. (2013) "What Do Animals Mean to You?": Naming and Relating to Nonhuman Animals. Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People , 26(4), 485-503. DOI: 10.2752/175303713X13795775535652  

  • March 5, 2014
  • 08:30 AM
  • 331 views

Will Work for Hot Dog?

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Do you ever wonder how dogs are rewarded for taking part in scientific research? In some studies dogs are allowed to act naturally, but in others they need to learn something such as how to operate an apparatus they haven’t seen before, or to observe people interacting. Either way, you can’t guarantee canine cooperation. This week we thought we’d take a look at how dogs are motivated during the course of the research itself.Photo: kitty / ShutterstockNeedless to say, food is a common denom........ Read more »

Burman, O., McGowan, R., Mendl, M., Norling, Y., Paul, E., Rehn, T., & Keeling, L. (2011) Using judgement bias to measure positive affective state in dogs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 132(3-4), 160-168. DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2011.04.001  

Range F, Huber L, & Heyes C. (2011) Automatic imitation in dogs. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 278(1703), 211-7. PMID: 20667875  

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