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Showing posts from February, 2018

To gesture or not to gesture in dog training?

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Are visual cues more effective than verbal cues in dog training?

Guest post by Sienna Taylor, MSc (Hartpury University Centre).


A new study by Anna Scandurra (University of Naples) et al. investigates whether visual cues as opposed to verbal cues are more effective when dogs are trained to fetch an item under four conditions: using only hand cues, using only verbal cues, using both hand and verbal cues and using contradictory hand and verbal cues.

It turns out that dogs responded better to visual hand gestures than verbal cues although speed of response was quicker when both hand and verbal cues were used together.

Many pet owners teach their dogs to respond to both visual and verbal cues, for example, an owner might ask their dog to lie on the floor by simply using the verbal command “Lie Down” or alternatively using a hand gesture such as pointing or perhaps a combination of both!  Whilst dogs do use vocalisations to communicate (such as attracting attention, with vocalisations usually …

Question Assumptions and Change Misconceptions

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The latest in the 'better world' series about dogs and cats.


For more information, you can read how to make the world better for dogs and how to make the world better for cats.



Do Some Cats Respond Quietly to Catnip?

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Young kittens don't have an active response to catnip. But if you think your cat does not respond to catnip, maybe it's just a quiet response, according to a recent study.


It is widely believed some cats respond to catnip and some cats don’t. A recent study throws that into question by suggesting almost all cats respond to catnip – it’s just that some of them do so in a quiet manner. While more research is needed, the study also finds young kittens (less than 3 months) do not have the active response to catnip.

The classic catnip response is an active one that typically involves rolling around, rubbing the chin or cheek on the catnip, sniffing or licking the catnip, shaking the head from side to side, drooling, bunny-kicking and/or rippling skin on the back. This response to catnip is seen in about two thirds of cats. It is inherited – and it is also seen in some other feline species such as Bobcats.

A 2017 study by Luz Teresa EspĂ­n-Iturbe (Universidad Veracruzana) et al suggests…

Think Dog and the Role of Food

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The latest in the 'better world' series about dogs and cats.



These are the latest images in the series about how to make the world better for dogs and how to make the world better for cats.

You can read the full quotes on those posts. I'm working through each expert answer in random order, so stay tuned for more!


Companion Animal Psychology Book Club February 2018

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"...Bradshaw explains how an affinity for animals drove human evolution and how now, without animals around us, we risk losing an essential part of ourselves."



The Companion Animal Psychology Book Club choice for February 2018 is The Animals Among Us: How Pets Make Us Human by John Bradshaw. In the UK, the title is The Animals Among Us: The New Science of Anthrozoology.

From the inside cover,
"In The Animals Among Us, anthrozoologist John Bradshaw argues that pet-keeping is nothing less than an intrinsic part of human nature. Throughout history, empathy for animals has increased our ability to survive. As our relationship with animals evolved, from the earliest domestication of wild animals thousands of years ago to the ubiquity of modern household pets, this connection grew ever stronger. Today, we can no more set aside the attachment that many of us feel for animals than we can ignore our sweet tooth. Drawing on the latest research in biology and psychology, Bradshaw exp…