Newsletter – November 2015

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. First observations of a rare whale species LINK

2. Naked mole rats aren’t as inbred as thought LINK

3. I love the title of this news article - worth a read just for that LINK

4. Insights into weight gain in Labradors LINK












More 2016 events on the website at www.learningaboutanimals.co.uk

- Chicken behaviour
- Equine emotions with Jo Hughes
- Animal Wefare: The Human Element (conference)

Just in case you missed it - a selection of some of the LAA Facebook posts since the August Newsletter

1. One of the things that frustrates me hugely on Facebook is videos of animals that are perceived as doing something 'cute' when a cursory understanding of animal behaviour would make you question that interpretation and know that the 'cute' behaviour is more likely to be fear-based. Tickling lorises for example. LINK

2. "The louder the monkey the smaller its balls" - is the conclusion of a howler monkey study (got to love the picture of howler monkeys howling). I can't help but hypothesise about the correlation between the noise some animal trainers make about their skills and how that might relate to ball size or metaphorical ball size for females....LINK

3. Brilliant experiment exploring how animals override their habits - I somehow missed this when it came out in April 2014 but worth a read LINK

What is your dog trying to tell you?

I recently gave a talk at the Holistic Horse and Hound Show about what dogs need to be happy and how to tell if they are not. It reminded me that one of my (many!) soap box subjects is that many dogs could be a little happier at home with a few easy changes in their care. Also so many dogs are misunderstood due to culturally sustained misinterpretations of common dog body language, if we can help to spread the word about what dogs are really trying to tell us we can end the perpetuation of harmful myths.

- This online dog body language course  is worth consdering- LINK - only 30 USD (£19) and all online.

- Does your dog want a hug? (video) LINK

- Does your dog want to be petted? (video) LINK

- General body language - LINK

- Tail wags - LINK

- Petting video - LINK

- Grumble zones - LINK

- How to kiss a dog! LINK

Human behaviour change for animal welfare

The First International Conference on Human Behaviour Change for Animal Welfare will take place in September 2016. A common response from people upon learning I am organising a conference on human behaviour change for animal welfare is “Great, sounds interesting. What does that mean?” This blog explores the different elements of human behaviour change and why many of us working in animal welfare believe that we can benefit from learning about human, as well as animal, behaviour.  LINK


The conference will  be of interest to anyone working to improve the lives of animals whether working with individual people, specific communities or aiming for mass change. Consider submitting an abstract to present a talk or poster at the conference, we welcome abstracts from individuals as well as organisations and charities. See the website for more information. LINK TO CONFERENCE WEBSITE

Thinking Horsemanship Weekend - Somerset DETAILS

First aid certificate for horse people DETAILS

THURSDAY 28th JANUARY (evening)
Cats are cool: exploring feline behaviour DETAILS

Change  - for trainers and behaviourists DETAILS

Small furry animal behaviour DETAILS


Gift vouchers available for talks and events

Just email for more information - suzanne@learningaboutanimals.co.uk

The Good News Box

1. Baby wild orca  LINK

2.  A new poll shows that Icelanders are eating less whale meat than they have in a decade, and less than half support the hunting of fin whales. LINK

3. Switzerland becomes first country to ban draw reins in show jumping... a pair of reins that are attached to a horse's saddle or girth and pass through the bit rings to the rider's hands forcing the head into a position that is considered to look good. Yay Switzerland! LINK

4. Dogs bred on a dog meat farm in South Korea have started their new lives with families in the USA. LINK

Interesting links

1. Article about the difficulties of tracking eels. LINK

2. Parachuting beavers LINK

3. Can we justify killing animals for food? LINK

4. The Appliance of Science - Justine Harrison reports from ISES LINK

5. Insightful blog about goat keeping LINK

6. PAW report 2016 LINK

Take action

1. A recent report entitled “Non-Commercial Horse Transport: Safety and Standards” has recently been published LINK. Readers are asked to write to their respective equine associations, equine transport dealers, and others to support the effort of the internationally accredited Canadian Standards Association (jeremy.fisher@csagroup.org).

2. Educate - spread the word about modern compassionate animal training. The myths that dogs and horses in particular need to be ‘dominated’ results in their physical and psychological suffering. A great resource explaining why humans do not need to be ‘pack leaders’ is this website http://www.dogwelfarecampaign.org/

3. Sign this petition to ban exotic wild animal acts in Idaho USA LINK

4. It’s getting cold - rescues appreciate extra spare blankets for the animals in their care so drop some off next time you pass your local rescue.

5. Start to think about feeding your garden birds this winter. The RSPB webpages have lots of useful information. LINK

Copyright 2013 © Learningaboutanimals.co.uk

Charity focus

Animal Welfare Network Nepal (AWNN) This network is doing amazing things for animals in Nepal. The members, facilitated by Manoj Gautam, have made a long list of impressive changes including bringing an end to the horrific Gadhimai festival in which hundreds of thousands of animals were slaughtered in a festival once every five years. Don’t be put off by the look of the website, it is an amazing inspiring effective network worthy of support. LINK

The PAW report - rabbits

Nearly 700,000 rabbits live alone in the UK according to the 2015 Paw Report.

97% of veterinary professionals believe that

rabbit hutches smaller than a recommended

size should be banned from sale.

Rabbits that eat rabbit muesli as a main source of food are significantly fewer in number from 49% in 2011 to 29% (muesli is an inappropriate feed for rabbits).


Check out the link for a video launching the ‪#‎PawsFirst‬campaign to try to encourage people to think more carefully about animal ownership and you can download the report from this link.

In February 2016 Dr Anne McBride will be giving a day’s talk on small furry animal behaviour. Book now, Anne is a fantastic speaker.