Companion Animal Psychology Blog

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173 posts · 199,580 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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  • April 27, 2016
  • 10:00 AM
  • 76 views

Why Science Matters to Our Dogs and Cats

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Science – and science blogging – can help animal welfare in important ways.We wish our companion animals to lead a charmed life and always be happy. We want our dogs and cats to have a wonderful relationship with us. But we can’t achieve this if we don’t know what they need and how we should interact with them.Last year, some readers took part in a survey of who reads science blogs. The preliminary results are out, and it’s got me thinking about why science – and science blogging –........ Read more »

  • April 20, 2016
  • 11:30 AM
  • 38 views

Enrichment Tips for Cats (That Many People Miss)

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Cats have a moderately-enriched life, but people need more knowledge about their felines in order to do better, according to a new study.There are many ways we can improve our cats’ lives: toys that let the cat simulate stalking prey, social interaction with people, providing spaces high-up for cats to go. This is called environmental enrichment, and is especially important for indoor cats. A new study by Ana Margarida Alho et al (University of Lisbon) finds that although most cats do quite we........ Read more »

  • April 13, 2016
  • 10:00 AM
  • 162 views

How to Choose the Right Puppy in Four Easy Steps

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

The vital questions to ask before you get your puppy-dog. Normal 0 false false false EN-CA X-NONE X-NONE ... Read more »

Dupont, S., Butaye, P., Claerebout, E., Theuns, S., Duchateau, L., Van de Maele, I., & Daminet, S. (2013) Enteropathogens in pups from pet shops and breeding facilities. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 54(9), 475-480. DOI: 10.1111/jsap.12119  

Morrow, M., Ottobre, J., Ottobre, A., Neville, P., St-Pierre, N., Dreschel, N., & Pate, J. (2015) Breed-dependent differences in the onset of fear-related avoidance behavior in puppies. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 10(4), 286-294. DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2015.03.002  

Schumaker, B., Miller, M., Grosdidier, P., Cavender, J., Montgomery, D., Cornish, T., Farr, R., Driscoll, M., Maness, L., Gray, T.... (2012) Canine distemper outbreak in pet store puppies linked to a high-volume dog breeder. Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation, 24(6), 1094-1098. DOI: 10.1177/1040638712460531  

  • April 6, 2016
  • 10:00 AM
  • 193 views

Less Stress at the Vet for Dogs and Cats

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Essential tips for better vet visits.You stealthily trapped your cat in the lounge, but at the first sight of the carrier she ran to hide under the sofa – and she’s not coming out. You move the sofa and grab her as she flees, then get scratched in the process of forcing her into the carrier. Or you’re in the waiting room at the vet’s and your dog keeps getting up and trying to leave. When you are called to the consulting room, he parks his rear end on the floor and refuses to move.It doe........ Read more »

Belew, A., Barlett, T., & Brown, S. (1999) Evaluation of the White-Coat Effect in Cats. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 13(2), 134-142. DOI: 10.1111/j.1939-1676.1999.tb01141.x  

Lockhart, J., Wilson, K., & Lanman, C. (2013) The effects of operant training on blood collection for domestic cats. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 143(2-4), 128-134. DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2012.10.011  

Mariti, C., Raspanti, E., Zilocchi, M., Carlone, B., & Gazzano, A. (2015) The assessment of dog welfare in the waiting room of a veterinary clinic. Animal Welfare, 24(3), 299-305. DOI: 10.7120/09627286.24.3.299  

  • March 23, 2016
  • 11:30 AM
  • 218 views

Canine Stress in the Vet's Waiting Room

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Almost 30% of dogs are highly stressed in the waiting room, but owners don’t necessarily know if their dog is stressed or not.Some dogs show signs of stress in the waiting room at the vet, according to a study by Chiara Mariti (University of Pisa) et al, but there are some surprises in the results. 45 healthy dogs and their owners each came for a scheduled appointment at the vet, where they spent 3 minutes in the waiting room. The dogs were videoed while owners completed a questionnaire. Later........ Read more »

Mariti, C., Raspanti, E., Zilocchi, M., Carlone, B., & Gazzano, A. (2015) The assessment of dog welfare in the waiting room of a veterinary clinic. Animal Welfare, 24(3), 299-305. DOI: 10.7120/09627286.24.3.299  

  • March 16, 2016
  • 11:30 AM
  • 258 views

The Effects of Seeing Animal Abuse on Children's Mental Health

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

For children who live in a situation of domestic violence, also witnessing animal cruelty may negatively impact resilience.New research by Shelby McDonald (Virginia Commonwealth University) et al (2016) looks at the effects of seeing animal abuse on children’s psychological health in a context where they already witness intimate partner violence. Last week I reported on a study by McDonald et al (2015)that found a quarter of children whose mothers experience domestic violence also see the........ Read more »

  • March 9, 2016
  • 02:00 PM
  • 254 views

Children's Experiences of Domestic Violence and Animal Abuse

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

24% of children whose mothers experience domestic violence also see threats to or abuse of companion animals, research shows.Every year in the US, 1 in 15 children is exposed to intimate partner violence, according to a national survey. Research by Shelby McDonald(Virginia Commonwealth University) et al finds many also witness abuse of pets in the home, potentially adding to the impacts on their behaviour and mental health.The researchers interviewed children age 7 – 12 whose mothers had ........ Read more »

  • March 2, 2016
  • 02:00 PM
  • 259 views

Reading to Dogs May Improve Literacy

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

A new review of existing research finds reading to dogs may help children’s literacy – but the quality of evidence is weak.  That’s the conclusion of a new paper by Sophie Hallet al (University of Lincoln). They searched the literature for studies that investigate the effects of programs in which children read to dogs, and conducted a systematic review of 48 papers.They write, “The evidence suggests that reading to a dog may have a beneficial effect on a number of behavioural proces........ Read more »

  • February 17, 2016
  • 01:31 PM
  • 236 views

Most Owners Say Cats Are Part Of The Family

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Most cat owners are confident in their ability to look after their pet, but feline welfare could be better in some respects.New research by Tiffani Howell (La Trobe University) et al investigates how people care for their cats. A representative survey of pet owners in the Australian state of Victoria included questions from feeding and sleeping arrangements to how much cats cost over their lifetime.“In general, Victorian cat owners appear to be meeting their cat’s welfare needs, with a ........ Read more »

  • February 3, 2016
  • 08:30 AM
  • 246 views

Homeless Youth With Pets Are Less Depressed Than Those Without

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

A survey of homeless youth finds that pets bring benefits – and difficulties.23% of homeless youth have pets, according to research by Harmony Rhoades et al (University of Southern California). The team surveyed 398 homeless youth at two drop-in centres in Los Angeles. While previous studies have shown that pets can be very important to homeless young people, this is the first quantitative study to look at pet ownership, mental health, and the use of services amongst this group.88% of the youn........ Read more »

  • January 27, 2016
  • 08:30 AM
  • 284 views

Shelter Dogs Live Up To Expectations (Mostly)

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Testing behaviour in the shelter is tricky, but most people who adopt a dog would do so again. Animal shelters often assess the behaviour of dogs before rehoming them, but because the tests are not always scientifically validated, Mornement et al (2014) developed the B.A.R.K. protocol. Results of the B.A.R.K. on 74 shelter dogs successfully predicted in-home ratings for fear and friendliness after the dogs had been adopted, but not anxiety, activity level or compliance. A follow-up paper by........ Read more »

  • January 20, 2016
  • 08:30 AM
  • 230 views

Finding out if shelter dogs are friendly: testing the B.A.R.K. protocol

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Research shows the challenges of assessing behaviour in shelter dogs.We know our pets well. My dog Bodger is bouncy and friendly; he sits to be patted, then jumps up with a surreptitious kiss; he likes zucchini and hates thunder. We form these observations through time spent with our dogs. But at animal shelters it’s not so easy. How do you assess the temperament of a dog you’ve only just met?Research by Kate Mornement(Monash University; Pets Behaving Badly) et al investigates this problem. ........ Read more »

  • January 13, 2016
  • 08:30 AM
  • 370 views

How Audiobooks Can Help Shelter Dogs

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

New research shows listening to audiobooks can help dogs waiting for adoption.Imagine how it must feel to be a dog at a shelter, taken from your normal environment for reasons you don’t understand, with unfamiliar smells and noises, including other dogs barking. Could the sounds of music or a person reading help? A new study by Clarissa Brayley and Tamara Montrose (Hartpury Animal Behaviour College) tests audiobooks and music to see if they calm the dogs, and finds beneficial results from audi........ Read more »

  • December 16, 2015
  • 08:30 AM
  • 401 views

Make Your Dog Happy: Puppy Class!

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Going to puppy class could be the best investment you make in your dog. Puppy classes provide important socialization opportunities and early learning experiences for puppies up to 5 months old. Puppy class is not just about training, it’s also (even mostly) about socialization.Socialization matters because dogs go through a developmental stage when happy, positive experiences with new people, dogs and things are important, and help to set them up to be happy, calm adult dogs. We know thi........ Read more »

Freedman, D., King, J., & Elliot, O. (1961) Critical Period in the Social Development of Dogs. Science, 133(3457), 1016-1017. DOI: 10.1126/science.133.3457.1016  

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  

Morrow, M., Ottobre, J., Ottobre, A., Neville, P., St-Pierre, N., Dreschel, N., & Pate, J. (2015) Breed-dependent differences in the onset of fear-related avoidance behavior in puppies. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 10(4), 286-294. DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2015.03.002  

  • December 2, 2015
  • 08:30 AM
  • 380 views

Enrichment for Goldfish

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

What keeps goldfish happy in their tank – and how do we know?You’ve heard about the importance of enrichment for companion animals (like dogs) and for zoo animals, but what about goldfish? Fish are the third most popular pet - kept by 12.3 million households in the US - so it’s an important topic for animal welfare. Different types of fish might have different preferences. A new study by Miriam Sullivan (University of Western Australia) et al investigates.Enrichment “is particularly impo........ Read more »

  • November 18, 2015
  • 08:30 AM
  • 405 views

Education about Cats may Reduce Feline Behaviour Problems

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Behavioural advice for people with a new kitten is linked to a better-behaved pet at 1 year old.A new pet can be hard work, and if people don’t fully understand the needs of their animals, behaviour problems can result. A new study investigates whether education for owners at their first vet appointment is the answer. People with a new kitten (3 months old) were given 25 minutes of standardized advice on caring for cats. The study, by Angelo Gazzano et al (University of Pisa) compared the........ Read more »

  • November 4, 2015
  • 08:30 AM
  • 511 views

Large Study Finds No Evidence for "Black Dog Syndrome"

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

A study of over 16,000 adoptable dogs finds black dogs don’t take longer to be adopted after all.Understanding what people look for in adoptable dogs can make a big difference to animal shelters. It makes sense to target promotions in order to stop dogs having lengthy stays. But you can only do this if you know what people want. The idea that black dogs wait longer for a new home than dogs of other colours has been around for a while. New research by Heather Svoboda and Christy Hoffman (C........ Read more »

  • October 28, 2015
  • 08:30 AM
  • 640 views

Make Your Dog Happy: Enrichment

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Easy ways to provide enrichment for your dog.Although we love our canine friends, many dogs have a relatively boring life in which they spend a lot of time hanging around the house or yard, perhaps on their own. Dogs that are bored or under-exercised can easily find their own entertainment, which might not be so pleasing to their human companions. Luckily there are many easy ways to add enrichment to our dog’s lives.Walks: If you are one of those people who walks your dog whatever the weather,........ Read more »

Christian HE, Westgarth C, Bauman A, Richards EA, Rhodes RE, Evenson KR, Mayer JA, & Thorpe RJ Jr. (2013) Dog ownership and physical activity: a review of the evidence. Journal of physical activity , 10(5), 750-9. PMID: 23006510  

Farrell, J., Hope, A., Hulstein, R., & Spaulding, S. (2015) Dog-Sport Competitors: What Motivates People to Participate with Their Dogs in Sporting Events?. Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People , 28(1), 61-71. DOI: 10.2752/089279315X1412935072201  

Tavares, S., Magalhães, A., & de Sousa, L. (2015) Labrador retrievers are more attracted to water than to social stimuli: A pilot study. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research. DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2015.07.041  

  • October 25, 2015
  • 08:30 AM
  • 337 views

A Conversation with Carri Westgarth

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Carri Westgarth and Francine Watkins new paper explores the perspectives of victims of dog bites. The results give important new insights into dog bite prevention. Carri kindly agreed to answer questions about her research on dog bites, dog walking, and puppies, and her own companion animals. How did you get interested in studying dog bite prevention?Carri as a child; Top photo: Carri with her dogs Jasmyn andBen, and her friend's dogs Alfie and ZephyrMy mum might say it started as a toddler........ Read more »

  • October 21, 2015
  • 08:30 AM
  • 543 views

A New Approach to Dog Bite Prevention

by CAPB in Companion Animal Psychology Blog

Strategies to prevent dog bites need to get past the belief that ‘it won’t happen to me.’4.5 million people a year are bitten by a dog in the US, of whom 885,000 need medical attention (Gilchrist et al 2008). In England in the last year, there were 7,227 admissions to hospital for injuries due to dogs, over 3000 more than a decade earlier. Developing a better understanding of how to prevent dog bites is essential. A new paper by Carri Westgarthand Francine Watkins (University of Liver........ Read more »

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