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Showing posts from November, 2018

Fellow Creatures: A New Post

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I  have a new post at my Psychology Today blog Fellow Creatures on a wonderful initiative to interest girls in science, via canine science.

All this month, the bloggers behind Do You Believe in Dog?, Mia Cobb and Julie Hecht, are sharing inspiring quotes from female canine scientists to encourage girls to get into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. They are using a girl's best friend to encourage girls to be scientists.




What Are the Five Freedoms (and What do they Mean to You?)

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The five freedoms of animal welfare, the one most people miss, and what it means for pet owners.



When you get a new puppy or kitten, no one tells you your new pet has five main welfare needs that need to be met. But maybe they should, because they provide a framework for how we should care for dogs, cats, and other pets. Read on to find out what they are, how many pet owners know them, and why they matter to you.


The Five Freedoms
The Five Freedoms were originally defined by the UK’s Farm Animal Welfare Council in the 1960s, and subsequently updated. They are now understood to apply to the welfare of all animals, not just livestock.

The Five Freedoms are:

Freedom from hunger and thirst, by ready access to water and a diet to maintain health and vigour. Freedom from discomfort, by providing an appropriate environment. Freedom from pain, injury and disease, by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment. Freedom to express normal behaviour, by providing sufficient space, proper facilities an…

Companion Animal Psychology News November 2018

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Women in canine science, people who care for parrots, dogs in Paris, and more... the latest news from Companion Animal Psychology.



Some of my favourites from around the web this month
"Clearly - dogs are awesome. So is science!" Women are thriving in canine science - tell a girl you know! At Do You Believe in Dog?, Mia Cobb and Julie Hecht are celebrating the women in canine science, and encouraging girls to get interested in a career in science. Don't miss the daily inspiring quotes on their Facebook and Twitter feeds.

“...it is the only study I know of which has demonstrated that petting and playing with a therapy dog can reduce human distress even when the interactions are not facilitated by a sympathetic handler” How important is the animal in animal-assisted therapy?Hal Herzog on an important new study that tests the use of therapy dogs with children. A must-read.

"This way of structuring veterinary and animal science as subjects within animal welfare is not only i…

Do dogs run faster for more treats or better quality treats?

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Scientists find out which rewards dogs will run faster for, and the results explain why you need to use good treats in dog training.



Modern dog trainers use positive reinforcement to train dogs, and that reinforcement often takes the form of food (see the ultimate dog training tip to find out why).

When you want a dog to come when you call them, you want to use your best training treats as a reward.

But scientists have paid surprisingly little attention to what dogs consider worth working for – until now.

A recent paper by Dr. Stefanie Riemer et al, published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science, looks at the relative effectiveness of quality and quantity of reinforcement as measured by how fast dogs run to the bowl they can eat it from.


Pet dogs were trained to run along a walkway that was 20 metres long in order to obtain food. The type of food (quantity or quality) was shown by the containers that were visible to the dog from the start position.

The first study compared one piece of dry f…

Celebrating Two Years of the Animal Book Club

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Great books about animals, discussed amongst friends… The Companion Animal Psychology Book  Club is two years old.



This month the Companion Animal Psychology Book Club is two years old.

I started the book club in November 2016, intending it to be a small group. Within a couple of days several hundred people had joined and I stopped accepting new members because I did not want the group to get too big.

The first book was The Trainable Cat by John Bradshaw and Sarah Ellis, which remains one of my favourites of all the ones we’ve read. Other personal favourites include Being a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz, How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog) by Lee Dugatkin and Lyudmila Trut, and Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat by Hal Herzog. I was also pleased to re-read Plenty in Life Is Free by Kathy Sdao with the book club.

But it's really hard to pick favourites because I've enjoyed them all, and every single one is well worth reading! Rather than mention them all here, you can see a full l…

How to Feed Your Cat: The Modern Guide to Feline Foraging

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The best way to feed cats has changed. Instead of leaving kibble in a bowl, here’s what you should do now.



It used to be simple: put kibble in a bowl and leave it out all day.

But that’s not how we should be feeding our pet cats. A new consensus statement from the American Association of Feline Practitioners explains the way we feed cats now.

The AAFP says are several reasons to think more carefully about you feed your cat. One is the increase in overweight and obesity in pet cats, which is bad for their health (see: how to help a fat cat lose weight).

Another reason is that using food puzzles for cats is a great enrichment activity that engages cats’ hunting instincts. This is especially important now that most pet cats are kept indoors for a lot or all of the time.

As well, having the right feeding system can help to keep feline stress levels low. This is especially important in households with more than one cat.

Read on to find out the modern way to feed a cat.



Use puzzle feeders
Puzzle fe…

Companion Animal Psychology Book Club November 2018

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"The most scientifically important dog in over a century." —Brian Hare.



The Companion Animal Psychology Book Club choice for November 2018 is Chaser: Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand Words by John W. Pilley with Hilary Hinzmann.
From the back cover,  "Chaser has fascinated dog lovers and scientists alike. Her story reveals the potential for taking out dialogue with dogs well beyond "fetch." When retired psychology professor John Pilley first got his new Border collie puppy, Chaser, he wanted to explore the boundaries of language learning and communication between humans and man's best friend. Exhibiting intelligence previously thought impossible in dogs, Chaser soon learned the names of more than a thousand toys and sentences with multiple elements of grammar. Chaser's accomplishments are revolutionizing the way we think about the intelligence of animals. John and Chaser's inspiring journey demonstrates the power of learning throug…