Friday, October 31, 2008

Understanding animal behavior

One of the biggest mistakes most people make when dealing with companion animals is attaching a human thought to the animal.
Companion animals do not use human thought processes, although many people believe they do. They don't and they can't. They are animals.
The field of animal behavior, especially companion animal behavior is one of the newest in the studies people are using in the fight to end euthanasia. There are even veterinarians who specialize in this study.
If you talk to most people, they think they know animals, but in truth, they don't. They have not been exposed to many of the behaviors shelter animals exhibit, because they have never been around shelter animals.
It is a grand thought to believe we always know how an animal is going to act or react to stimuli. They truth is, many act differently. Why will one animal sit contentedly in a kennel, wagging its' tail as people pass by and another bark? Why does one totally ignore people and another act as if they want to rip your arm off?
Studying these different reactions can sometimes mean life or death to an animal. Understanding why they react differently is the interesting part. Do they do this with everyone, or only fat people? Do they like women, or are they only aggressive with men? What about children? Do they like kids, or was a child mean to them at some point in their life so they growl at each one that walks by?
Studying animal behavior brings more and more questions. Unfortunately for some, decisions may be made by people without proper knowledge without all sides being examined. This is when the animal loses.
Perhaps if more people were concerned about animal behavior and ask the questions before a judgement was made, more animals could be saved from certain death because of ignorance. It is something we in animal welfare should all strive for.

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