The social life of pets arouses curiosity

LiU’s courses in domestic animal behaviour remain extremely popular. Nearly 900 people applied for the 90 places on a new distance-learning course in animal psychology.

Gunilla Pravitz

“It’s really great that so many are interested, and this is a clear signal that people really care about their animals and want to learn more about them”, says Lina Roth, docent in ethology and one of the course developers: Animal psychology: behaviour, cognition and relationships in domestic animals, to start in the spring term of 2020.

The course will give 15 credits and run for one year, focussing mainly on horses, dogs and cats. The topics studied include the interaction between animals and people, the biology and psychology of learning, animal emotions, and how animals react to stress.

Courses already offered at LiU are Behaviour and Biology of the Dog, and Senses and Behaviour of the Horse. These continue to attract many applicants.

“The courses are one way to disseminate our research and present it in way that folk understand. Previous participants have been everything from individuals who own a domestic animal to vets, various types of animal trainer, and teachers in riding schools. Everyone has been equally enthusiastic and all have a common interest – animals”, says Lina Roth.

She believes that one reason for the huge interest in animal psychology is that the significance of animals in our lives has changed.

“Today, we consider them to be social individuals, and this makes us curious about how they function, think and experience their surroundings. They become individuals that are more similar to us. Quite simply, we want to understand our animals.”

The course is held in collaboration with the Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, with course coordinator Professor of Ethology Per Jensen.

Translated by George Farrants

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