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Human Enrichment: Learning About Animal Behavior

Updated: Feb 19, 2022

I love education - it's the best way to change the behavior of any species. Learning about the world around us, others, and ourselves allows us to better understand concepts and perspectives, exercise our minds, and contribute effectively to society. Conservation, civil rights, world issues, tolerance and acceptance and so much more rely on education as means of spreading. When we know better, we do better.

The same concept applies to pretty much anything, though at a much smaller scale, including animal behavior. Having a better understanding of how pets behave and think, how to effectively deal with issues, and ways to improve unwanted behaviors can have a literal life or death impact on a cat or dog. Whether a pet owner is actively seeking out information or hears a tidbit over dinner some night, the more we all know the better off our pets are. One of the ways I try to provide education is by writing educational articles about cat or dog behavior for animal organizations like Pet Sitters International, the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, and Pet Finder. Additionally, I also contribute to articles by other others for outlets such as Martha Stewart,, and Pet MD. It recently occurred to me that since so much hard work went into these and they contain some pretty great information, perhaps I should pull all of these articles together into a content library! So, that's what I did.

I have created a resource page on my website dedicated to content I have created, contributed to, or just think are fantastic. Some of them are entertaining, some are serious, but all are full of useful information. For this blog, instead of a true blog I thought I'd share a few interesting highlights to give you a feel for what is available. I encourage you to peruse the articles, contact me to request content topics, and hopefully learn something new! Also, be sure to come back once in a while as I will be continually adding to the list.

Why do dogs stare at babies the way it does squirrels or birds? To a dog, they all look, smell, and sound like strange animals. In fact, dogs don't recognize babies as human until babies develop controlled motor skills. To be safe, never leave a baby unattended with any dog. (Baffling Pet Behavior Explained, Martha Stewart Living)

Jones believes enrichment not only improves the health and increases the happiness of animals in shelters and foster care, but also holds incredible educational impact for the community. “Enrichment is an ideal opportunity to foster service learning in an organization while addressing the needs of the shelter animals,” she states. “Such programs offer the possibility to increase volunteer retention, adoptions and public support while decreasing staff turnover and euthanasia.” (Enrichment: Good for Cats, Good for Adoptions,

Cats will lick people if they find the taste enjoyable. The natural ingredients found in human perspiration can be appetizing for some cats. Cats can also be attracted to items you put on yourskin, such as medical ointments and skin lotion. (Why Does My Cat Lick Me?, Pet Health Network)

Is a sigh always a sigh? Dogs make many vocalizations, and they mean different things depending on various factors such as context, experience, relationships, the individual dog, and much more,” says certified animal behaviorist and dog trainer Katenna Jones of Jones Animal Behavior, in Warwick, Rhode Island. “There is also human interpretation: One person’s sigh is another person’s huff, moan, groan or whine." (Why Do Dogs Sigh?, Mary Jo DiLonardo)

Cats are less likely to be taken to the veterinarian and less likely to have money spent on their supplies, toys and other stimulating items. (What You Don't Know Your Cat is Trying to Tell You, Pet Health Network)

The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior states that "early and adequate socialization can go a long way to preventing behavior problems and improving bonding between humans and dogs." Even if you have an unsocialized dog ends up with mild behavioral problems such as shyness, it's unfair to a dog to raise them to be nervous around new things. (How to Socialize a Dog, Love to Know)

Your butt is your business. Why is the dog all up in it? Dogs greet each other by sniffing anal, genital, and facial areas, as they are packed full of scent. The anal area is of particular interest, because of the anal sacs that are on either side of the anus. This is sort of a 'Hello, my name is ____' badge and tells dogs a great deal about each other. Humans, no matter how clean, have areas that are packed full of interesting scents. One in particular, happens to be right at nose level. (13 Weird Cat and Dog Behaviors Explained, NextAvenue)

Read the rest of this content and more at

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