Most Serious Dog Bites Happen at Home, and No Breed Group Can Be Blamed

A study of dog bites in Calgary finds no breed group can be singled out for serious bites, and older adults may be at more risk than previously thought.

Dog bites are a serious public health problem. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 4.7 million Americans are bitten every year and 800,000 require medical treatment. New research from Dr. Niamh Caffrey and colleagues (University of Calgary), published in Animals, investigates all dog bites in Calgary between 2012 and 2017. What makes this study unique is the level of detail and reliability of the data compared to most studies of dog bites.

The results show that the people most at risk of dog bites are children, youth, and older adults (aged 60 or above). While the increased risk for children and youth is as expected, the higher risk for older adults may come as a surprise. As well, the research shows no difference between breed groups in terms of serious bites.

Dr. Caffrey, first author of the study, told me in an e…

Companion Animal Psychology News June 2019

What pigeons teach us about home, the view from a catcam, and stunning photographs of dogs... this month's Companion Animal Psychology news.

Wag newsI am very excited to share the news that my publisher, Greystone Books, has made the official announcement that my book, Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy, will be published in Spring 2020. This month I have been responding to the proof-reader’s queries and have also seen the page spreads. After all this hard work, it is finally starting to look like a real book.

Some of my favourites this month “When they were in their homes, the cats spent a lot of time following their humans around. They liked to be in the same room. A lot of my students were surprised at how attached cats were to people.” David Grimminterviewed one of the researchers behind the recent catcam study (don't miss the video!) and Dr. Mikel Delgado wrote about Can “catcams” help us study behaviour?

“I thought that keeping pigeons might teach me something about …

Fellow Creatures: Seniors and Pets

I have a new post at my Psychology Today blog, Fellow Creatures, about a new review study of seniors with pets.

It shows that while pets can have many benefits for older people, there are can also be some issues, and the report has some suggestions. Read more in the challenges and benefits of pet ownership for seniors.

Photo: Peter Baxter/Shutterstock.

The Train for Rewards Blog Party is live

The Train for Rewards blog party is now live. You can read an amazing set of posts from talented dog trainers and animal behaviour professionals on the reward-based training of dogs and cats.

Check it out here.

Then share your favourite posts on social media with the hashtag #Train4Rewards.

There is also a photo post where you can add a photo of your pet to show your support for training with positive reinforcement. (It's a pet-ition, geddit?!).

To Promote Positive Reinforcement Dog Training, Teach, Engage, and Amplify

Three tips to encourage and support people to use reward-based training methods with their dog or other pet.

How can we encourage more people to use positive reinforcement to train their dog?

Those of you who know me know that this question is often on my mind. It’s because positive reinforcement is good for animal welfare and fun for the dog. I explore some of this in the post that kicked off the very first Train for Rewards blog party, seven reasons to use reward-based training methods. I even wrote an article for the Journal of Veterinary Behavior about the barriers to the adoption of humane dog training methods, which you can read about in why don’t more people use positive reinforcement to train dogs.

Today, for the fourth annual Train for Rewards blog party, I want to share three tips that we all can use to help encourage and support people to use reward-based training methods with their dog, or other animal (because reward-based training is for all our pets).

Teach people how to us…

The Train for Rewards Photo Post 2019

Do you use rewards to train your dog or cat (or other pet)? Show your support for reward-based training by posting a photo of your pet to the pet-ition here.

By popular request, this post is part of the Train for Rewards blog party hosted here at Companion Animal Psychology.

Add your pet’s photo, then share on social media with the hashtag #Train4Rewards.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party! Click here to enter

The photo link-up is open until 4pm Pacific time on Thursday 20th June, when the full list of Train for Rewards posts is available.

How to add the photo
Click where it says 'add your link' and follow the instructions to add your photo (no link is required). You will have up to 50 characters for your pet’s name. The link-up only allows 3 photos per person.

If you make a mistake, you can delete the entry and start again.

You have to give your email address, but it will not be used except if needed to communicate about the photo link-up. You can read the privacy policy here.


"Bad Dog?" The Psychology and Importance of Using Positive Reinforcement

Calling a dog a "bad dog" very often displays a lack of knowledge about dog behavior, says Marc Bekoff in this essay on the importance of positive reinforcement in dog training.

This guest post by Marc Bekoff is part of the Train for Rewards blog party.

"Eugene, you're a bad dog. Why did you try to fight with Melvin?""Monica, why did you attack Rosie? Bad dog!""Bad dog, bad dog, bad dog! Good dogs don't do that.""My dog Joey was badly abused by other dogs and humans when he was young and learned that he had to fight back. He was doing what came naturally. Now that I've worked hard to socialize him to other dogs and to humans and to praise him when he doesn't fight back, he's learned that fighting fire with fire doesn't work. I always told him he's a 'good dog' when he didn't fight back.""I learned that letting Henry know he was a 'good dog' when he wasn't reactive was the best way …