Behavior Columns as Published in the Coloradoan
Pets Improve People’s Quality of Life
This week stress will be at an all-time high for students as they prepare for finals week at Colorado State University. Chronic stress like many students experience can be helped by interaction with animals. We will be embarking on a new approach to stress relief on campus by providing students with dogs to pet. Having positive relationships in our lives is important, and this can be especially true with our pets. We know that our pets are better off for being adopted by us. However, more and more evidence shows that pets enhance our lives too… Read more
What Do Behavior Changes Mean?
When we live with them day after day, we don’t always pay attention to small changes in our beloved companions. Sometimes changes in behavior are the first indicators that there may be something medically wrong so we need to think about and troubleshoot any new differences before new habits become established… Read more
What happens the first eight weeks of life shapes your kitten’s adult personality
The grass is green, the air is getting warmer and for shelters and rescue groups that means one thing. It’s kitten season. When adopting a kitten at eight weeks old, many owners think they are starting with a blank slate. However, many features of a kitten’s personality are formed before they go to their forever home. Understanding the important aspects of kitten development early on can help kittens grow into well socialized and stable adults… Read more
What Can Dogs See?
Can dogs see color? We have all been told at some point that dogs only see in black and white. What is interesting about this perpetuating piece of information is that it did originally come from research- but over 100 years ago. Science is always moving on and finding new information. Later experiments which looked at the actual cells in their eyes were able to find out the wavelengths of light that dogs can detect. It turns out dogs can see color, but not in the same way that we do… Read more
Just because cats and dogs frequently live in the same household and occupy similar spaces in our hearts does not mean they are close relatives or even that they arrived in human homes the same way. Cats are not little dogs, as is evident by their behavior. Why are they so different in how they interact with us? The answer may lie in how we began our relationship some 9,000 years ago…Read more
Understanding Social Behavior In Cats
Cats are widely considered by owners to be a solitary species, but this is not so, despite aggression being a common problem in household cats. Observing cats in wild or feral situations in research studies has outlined normal behavior for male and female cats which is quite a bit different than dogs, but highly social and cooperative. In non-home situations, cats tend to choose to live in groups called colonies composed of both male and female individuals…Read more
Breed Diversity in Dogs
Last time, we discussed the beginning of dog domestication starting in China approximately 15,000 years ago. Dogs played an important part of cultural history for many early people by:
- Allowing travel enabling people to carry more as they moved from place to place, either with travois or by pulling sleds
- Alerting their communities to dangers their humans couldn’t detect and protecting people from invasion or predators… Read More
Where Did Our Dogs Come From?
Last week, the semester began for me and for thousands of students at CSU. I teach a class on the behavior of domestic dogs and I always start by talking about origins and the domestication because it relates to how we interact with them and work with them even today. There has been a lot of new research published in the past ten years and that has shaped what we know about man’s best friend…Read more
There are abundant resources for puppy owners when they adopt a new pup but fewer options exist for kittens. Kittens are very intelligent and highly curious, especially when they are young. Their brains are open to new experiences during development and they can make the most of these opportunities. Socialization is what we call systematic exposure to experiences and things they will normally encounter in life. When they see and hear those things at a young age, they can incorporate them into their repertoire of what is known…Read more
Finding That Teachable Moment
Good pet parents are prepared for when their companions make a mistake so we can make misbehavior into a teachable moment. Our pets have only a brief window of two seconds to connect their actions with the consequence. After that window has closed, the learning opportunity has vanished. Here are some ideas for getting prepared… Read more