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Zazie Todd PHD, Biography, Workshops, SPeaking

Zazie Todd, PHD

Profile photo of Dr Zazie Todd smiling at the camera with her dog, a tri-coloured Australian Shepared, holding a yellow tug toy and looking at the cameraZazie Todd PhD is the award-winning author of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy and Purr: The Science of Making Your Cat Happy. Her third book, on the science of helping anxious and fearful dogs, will be published by Greystone Books in late 2024.

Todd is the creator of Companion Animal Psychology blog, has a blog at Psychology Today, and has written for magazines such as BBC Science Focus, Modern Dog, Modern Cat, Inside Your Dog’s Mind, and Inside Your Cat’s Mind.

She has a PhD in Psychology, is an honours graduate of the prestigious Academy for Dog Trainers, and has an Advanced Certificate of Feline Behaviour (with Distinction) from International Cat Care. Originally from the UK, she lives in Maple Ridge, BC, with her husband, one dog, and two cats.

About the Talks

From Fearful to Happy: The Role of Emotions in Animal Welfare

Saturday 15th June, 9:30am to 10:30am

What do pets need in order to be happy?

How can thinking about their welfare help to prevent and resolve behavior issues?

This talk will look at modern approaches to animal welfare and how they relate to training, behavior, and enrichment. We’ll look at how we know that animals feel emotions, why positive experiences are an important part of good welfare, how to give dogs and cats opportunities to engage in normal behaviors, and the best ways to guide pet guardians towards important practices like reward-based training methods and an enriched environment.


  • Describe changes in how we think about animal welfare, and their roots in contemporary animal behaviour science
  • Appraise the role of emotions in common human-animal interactions, including training
  • Design enrichment activities to meet pets’ needs (and those of their humans)
  • Apply modern concepts of animal welfare to dog training and dog- and cat- behaviour modification 

Counter-Conditioning: How to get it right?
Saturday 15th June, 12:00pm to 12:30pm

When a dog is frightened, we often make use of classical conditioning.

Counter conditioning is a very effective tool to help dogs learn to like things they were previously afraid of, but many people make mistakes in its implementation—and then think it hasn’t worked. This talk will give an overview of those all-important details and why they matter, including how to make a clear contingency, when and how to combine counterconditioning with desensitization, and the role of an element of surprise. Plus we’ll talk about the best ways to explain these ideas in client-friendly ways.


  • Spot common mistakes that people make in counter-conditioning
  • Understand the role of an element of surprise
  • Develop and perfect counter-conditioning plans

How to Prevent and Resolve Common Behaviour Issues in Cats
Saturday 15th June, 4:00pm to 5:00pm

This seminar will take an engaging look at life from a cat’s point of view – and how we can use this information to prevent and resolve common behaviour issues in cats.

Getting the environment right is an essential part of providing for a cat’s needs (especially for indoors-only cats). We will start by looking at the five things you need to do to ensure a home is set up right for cats. House soiling issues are one of the most common problems and we will look at cats’ litter box preferences in terms of size, smell, frequency of scooping etc. as well as when to see a veterinarian.

We will look at feline body language, and how to recognize signs of fear and stress in cats. Unfortunately cats may become aggressive if they are in situations they consider stressful. We will look at how to deal with issues such as cats that become aggressive when petted or who are aggressive to visitors to the home. Finally we will consider inter-cat relations and how to help cats get along with other feline members of the household, and how to recognize if they are friends or foe. You will leave with lots of tips for training and enrichment, and a better understanding of cats’ needs.


  • Know how to provide the five pillars of a healthy feline environment
  • Understand what cats need from their litter box and common causes of house soiling issues
  • Recognize signs of fear, anxiety, and stress in cats
  • Know strategies to use when cats are aggressive in different situations
  • How to help cats get along in multi-cat homes

Strategies for the Human Side of Fearful/Reactive Dogs
Sunday 16th June, 10:30am to 11:00am

Having a dog who is reactive or fearful can be very difficult for the human guardian. When reactive dogs “go off” despite the best efforts of the guardian, people can have a range of negative emotions, and research shows those negative emotions are linked with a lower likelihood of using humane training methods. This talk will go through some of the strategies that can help you or your clients deal with the human side of having a fearful or reactive dog.


  • Understand the role of both confidence and emotions for someone with a fearful or reactive dog
  • Describe caregiver burden for people with pets with a behaviour issue
  • Demonstrate techniques to structure learning for the human as well as the dog in order to keep training on track, and to learn from difficult situations
  • Compare coaching methods to best help clients who are struggling with their dog

Puppy and Cat Playtime and Enrichment: Why it Matters
Sunday 16th June, 11:30am to 12:30pm

Young animals, including puppies and kittens, can often be found playing, but what’s the role of play and how is it important for development?

This talk will look at what young animals gain from playing together, how it matters for their behavioural development, and changes in play that come with age. We’ll also look at how to safely give puppies opportunities to play and why it’s a great idea to include this in puppy class.


  • Understand the role of play in behavioural development, including learning to play fair
  • Discuss different theories of why play is important to puppies and kittens (and other young animals), and how play affects the human-animal bond
  • Choose the best ways to provide play opportunities to puppies and kittens

Changing Minds on Training Methods
Sunday 16th June, 4:00 to 5:00pm

We know that reward-based methods are the best way to train dogs, because aversive methods have risks (including fear, anxiety, aggression, and stress), can damage the dog-human bond, and may also not be as effective.

But what are the best ways to convince people of this?

Drawing on research in psychology and science communication, this talk will look at some of the best ways to communicate about dog training, including how to teach, engage people, and then amplify the message. We’ll consider the importance of having a positive message, the issues with myth-vs-fact type articles, and how to counter misinformation about dogs.


  • Explore the evidence on dog training methods
  • Apply ideas from science communication to the field of dog training
  • Consider how to decide whether to raise different ideas (or ignore them)
  • Develop strategies for one-to-one communication and for social media
  • Formulate approaches to counter misinformation about dogs

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