Why observe the behavior of animals and are there enough observations?
Watching animal behavior is not only a pleasure, but also a necessity.
Why is it important to observe animal behavior?
The fact is that the behavior of animals is the first thing that shows us how a living creature reacts to certain changes in life.
That is why scientists devote a lot of time to observing animals, because this is a useful and non-invasive way to evaluate their well-being. However, the conclusions made on the basis of observations are sometimes fraught with problems, since people are prone to anthropomorphism, that is, ascribing to animals human feelings and ways of reacting to the world around them. And animals do not always react to the environment in the same way as we do.
For example, many owners are convinced that dogs only feel guilty because the dog behaves like a person who knows that he has done something wrong. But such dog behavior is not a sign of remorse, but of fear.
Each animal reacts to the world in its own way. And if we want to make pets happy, it is important to learn to see the world from their point of view. For this, scientists have developed many methods for assessing animal behavior.
One relatively simple method is drawing up an etogramwhen the observer carefully captures any manifestations of animal behavior, their detailed description and duration.And then these records are compared when animals are placed in different conditions.
For example, it is known that a horse in natural conditions wanders and grazes about 16 hours a day, but if you lock it in a stall for 24 hours, it will not be able to exhibit this behavior. And the lack of such an opportunity can cause stable defects.
It is important to observe animals in natural conditions - it is precisely such observations that provide valuable information on how behavior can occur in response to the presentation of certain stimuli. For example, about 30 years ago, Professor David Wood-Gush and his students placed ordinary domestic pigs in conditions close to natural, and found that pigs ... build real nests from grass for sleeping and for piglets! Alas, in the conditions of most farms, these animals at that time were deprived of such an opportunity.
Is it enough to just watch the animals?
But is this kind of observation enough to judge whether our pet is happy and its needs are being met? Unfortunately, observation has a limitation: we see the behavior of animals, but often we cannot understand why animals act in one way or another.
In addition, we know that the behavior of an animal depends on conditions and on the availability of various kinds of possibilities. And to understand more about how animals perceive this world, we need to penetrate deeper into their way of thinking.
And here all sorts of people come to the rescue tests. For example, those in which animals are invited to make a choice. These tests help you understand what animals like and what they avoid.
However, these tests have limitations: after all, animals can choose only from those options that the experimenter suggested.And how do we know if this choice is really “the best” or just “the least evil”? In addition, other factors influence the choice, for example, air temperature, age and sex of the animal, etc.
And here come to the rescue motivational tests. The point is to provide the animal with several opportunities and see which one it is “paying” for, for example, press the lever to get one or another food. The more actively the animal will press the lever with a specific food (if there is a choice), the more, therefore, he likes this treat. This helps to understand what is really important for animals.
Observations and studies can be used to change animal welfare laws, but they are also useful for representatives of the animal industry and organizations that help “our smaller brothers.” And, of course, all this gives us the opportunity to see the world from the point of view of those whom we care about.