Newsletter – February 2017

Learning About Animals was set up to provide information and promote interest in the welfare and behaviour of animals. The aim is to bridge the gap between professionals  & scientists working with animals and the public.

If you have any suggestions for future events, if you would like to be considered to be a speaker, or if you would like to get involved in helping at the events, or projects please get in touch.


Research Round-up

1. Interesting study regarding media coverage on animal welfare issues. LINK

2. Experiments showing that if a dog sees you being kind/nasty to someone they will 'judge' you for it - sparking discussions about morality across species. LINK

3. Empathetic people experience dogs' expressions more strongly. LINK












More events on the website including a horse behaviour talk in Cornwall.

nteresting links - a selection of some of the LAA Facebook posts since the last Newsletter. Do you follow our FB page?

1. Why all vets should hone their skills in animal behaviour. LINK

2. Crustacean Compassion? Here’s Why We Should Protect The Welfare Of Crabs, Lobsters, And Crayfish. LINK

3. A powerful blog to read LINK

4. CPD for vets could be as simple as owning a cat!  LINK

5. Not surprisingly researchers recently concluded that ".... unpleasant experiences occurring in public spaces while young may predispose puppies to developing aggression later in life." Read the review of the paper on page 6 of the RSPCA review LINK

6. Responses of horses to wither scratching and patting the neck when under saddle - "In terms of behavioural response, horses displayed less agitated behaviours and more relaxed behaviours when being scratched on the withers than when being patted on the neck or receiving no interaction. These results suggest that scratching the withers may be a useful method of calming a horse while under saddle, and that patting the neck was an ineffective method of calming horses." For the review of the paper see page 4 of LINK

7. A recent paper studied enrichment of shelter cats using clicker training. "The clicker training treatment improved the baseline emotional state of the Treatment cats when compared to the Control cats". For the full review of the paper see page 5 of LINK

8. Was about time the cat eating ethogram made it to the pet world. LINK

TED talk recommendations

I don’t tend to watch TV but do have a guilty pleasure - TED talks. Here are some of the ones I have recently enjoyed.

1.  The development of empathy for animals is a key factor in driving human behaviour change towards them but the development of empathy for humans who are behaving in ways we don't like is key to being effective in our work with people. See this TED talk by Dr Reiss about empathy.

2. How to speak so that people will listen. TED LINK

3. Moral behaviour in animals TED LINK

4. Naomi Rose’s great talk calling to retire captive cetaceans. TED LINK.

5. The future of zoos - Ron Kagan TED LINK

6. Why I live a zero waste life - TED LINK

7. Mental illness in animals TED LINK

8. Jill Robinson’s TED talk

9. How smart are dolphins? Lori Marino’s TED TALK

10. Why elephants are so cool. TED TALK

Communication skills for animal professionals. Bucks. DETAILS

Exploring play in dogs with Amber Batson. Wiltshire,  DETAILS.

Lessons from counselling: applying key principles of counselling to our work with clients. Manchester. DETAILS.

Multi-dog households with Sian Ryan. Surrey, DETAILS.


To do list

1. Sign this petition to help crustaceans LINK

2. ‘Like’ the Aquarium Welfare Association on Facebook LINK

3. Join or set up a Phil-the-bag group in your area to fundraise for your favourite charity LINK, or donate your towels to your local animal charity.


Human Behaviour Change for Animals

Check out this website - it is changing all the time with updates. Join the mailing list at info@hbcanimalwelfare.com and follow us on Facebook, for lots of resources and links on this subject. https://www.facebook.com/HBCAW/



I am IAABC certified - a ‘Certified Horse Behaviour Consultant’ or CHBC.

IAABC behaviourists have now been accepted as Accredited Behaviourists under the ABTC - so now I am one of them as well as a Certified Horse Behaviour Consultant with the IAABC (International Association of Animal Behaviour Counsellors). Glad to see the behaviour world developing some structure.

Snuffle mat

I joined in with the craze and made a snuffle mat. Cutting an old fleece, old wellie socks and a bit of old dog blanket into strips to ‘upcycle’ them into the mat was quite satisfying, tying them onto the mat was a little boring but progress was quick and scattering treats in the matt for Pebbles-dog to find was worth the effort! Scattering a handful of food onto grass has the same effect, and we do that too but now we have an indoor version.

Copyright 2013 © Learningaboutanimals.co.uk

New LAA plastic policy

I usually end up going through the rubbish after the event and sorting out all the recyclable things. If I was more organised, sometimes I am, I provide separate bins for recyclable and non-recyclable things but let's go one step further - all LAA events from now on, we are encouraging people to not use plastic at all.

We provide water, tea, coffee so no need to bring your own receptacles to drink out of, and please try to bring your packed lunch in eco-friendly packaging too and let's see how little rubbish we can generate...

For some inspiration see these links:

Kids Against Plastic - http://clearplasticuk.net/

Plastic Oceans - http://www.plasticoceans.org/

The pollution from clothes in the oceans- LINK

Virtually every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists in some shape or form (with the exception of the small amount that has been incinerated).