Companion Animal Body Language and Behaviour
In this animal enrichment course module, you will learn about the basics of animal body language & psychology. Learn how to recognise when animals are experiencing stress.
In this animal enrichment course modle, you will learn how to provide mental and physical stimulation for animals living in confinement.
(Course cost is all inclusive of tutoring fees, assessments, materials and course registration)
Environmental enrichment serves to reduce stress, by enabling the individual to partake in innate behaviour, but to also help with boredom and displacement activities. Stress can manifest itself in numerous ways and illustrates that the animal is in a poor state of welfare. Some scientists suggest that there are three factors that impact if an animal is in a good state of welfare: Physical status (fitness). Biological indicators including reproduction, health and production for agricultural animals. Mental status (feelings behavioural indicators such as stereotypic behaviour. All of these factors have a close relationship with one another: any significant compromise in one aspect tends to affect the other two.Thus, if poor welfare is acting on an animal’s natural behaviour (e.g. poor enclosure design, lack of opportunity to express natural behaviour), it is likely to impact on their physical fitness and their mental health. Similarly, if poor welfare is acting on an animal’s mental health (e.g. aggression from humans or other animals etc), then it is likely to cause behavioural problems and issues with physical fitness. Thus if poor welfare factors are affecting an animal’s physical fitness (poor diet, malnutrition, starvation, thirst, lack of exercise, injury and disease) it is likely to cause mental health issues and behavioural problems. In the 90’s Professor Donald M Broom of Cambridge University was at the forefront of the study of animal behaviour, psychology and welfare and characterised animal welfare as: “the physical and psychological state of an animal as regards its attempt to cope with its environment” This means that a change in an animals welfare, leads to a change in the animals physiological state and therefore physiological responses or ‘outputs’ can be seen. There are many factors in an animal’s environment that can cause it to feel stress. A lack of choices in the animal’s environment can mean that it is not being given adequate opportunity to perform its natural instincts and lacking the opportunity to perform normal behaviours. For example, if an animal is not given the opportunity to collect their own food, or select their own nesting material to build a nest, then important instinctual behaviours such as foraging and nest building are being overlooked, and can impact on the animal’s physical welfare.Conversely if an animal that is social in the wild is kept in solitary confinement then important bonding and territorial behaviours are not being performed and as a result there is likely to be an increase in depression or fear related behaviours due to lack of socialisation. Factors that we impose on animals in captivity, such as enclosure size, have a big impact on an animal’s freedom, choices and ability to perform natural behaviours. Any novel stimulus which promotes an animal's interest in its environment and encourages the animal to explore its surroundings can be considered enrichment. Enrichment can therefore include both natural and artificial objects, scents, novel food items, and different methods of preparing foods. Enrichment can also describe the way in which an animal’s environment is designed, often in a 3D manner. For example, adding additional perches to a parrot’s cage, or additional levels to a hamster’s cage can significantly increase the size and usage of the enclosure, despite the actual cage size remaining the same. This Animal Enrichment course explores how to minimise stress and ensure environmental enrichment for companion animals.