What is ethnography?
Types of conditioning & reinforcement
Habituation, play, observation
Innate behaviours v’s learned
Evolution of the domestic dog
Genetics and the influence on behaviour
Anatomy & Physiology of the brain
Voluntary & Involuntary behaviours
Stimuli and senses
What is intelligence?
How does theory of mind impact the work?
Normal and abnormal physiology
Impact of stressors on the body-what factors might change the normal homeostasis
Development of puppies into adulthood
Factors that can cause behavioural problems; socialisation, early life experiences, diet, health, rescue dogs.
Anthropocentrism and ecocentrism
The canine as family and anthropomorphism
Dogs as healers
Animal abuse and domestic abuse: the links between human/animal violence
‘Tea & sympathy’ – empathy and listening skills
Personal impact & compassion fatigue
Causes of behavioural problems
Feedback from carers
Alternative medicine and other treatments
Brief history of animal welfare legislation
Morality of animals as pets
You will submit a 10,000 word Dissertation.
Samples from three coursework essays. These give an indication of the content and style of writing expected.
Compassion has deep evolutionary roots, and along with the emotion of empathy, can be found by neuron activity within the amygdala and prefrontal cortex. Mirror neurons react when we sense another’s emotions, and oxytocin is released through trust and social bonding. Specific genes and receptors also predispose us to altruism, there is a real health benefit for us to act with kindness and compassion. Our empathy with others which allows us to understand how they feel, also allows us to momentarily mirror their feelings. However, our somatic empathy, that which we unconsciously feel deep within ourselves, is a major factor in compassion fatigue. The right side of our brain which is involved in regulating our emotional lives becomes repeatedly overused, and ultimately we can become dysfunctional showing symptoms of depression, anxiety, hypochondria, combativeness and the inability to concentrate (Smith 2009).
The hypothalamus is pea-sized and weighs (in a human) around 4g (Nevid, 2016). It is located below the thalamus at the base of the brain (Boreree, 2015 cited in Tyler et al, 2017) and receives information that is linked with the fight-flight response such as increased heart rate and changes in blood flow (Tyler et al, 2017). The hypothalamus therefore plays a major role in the body’s response to stress. It is the corner stone of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis (Genes to Cognition Online, 2009) and also controls the endocrine system and hormonal release (Nevid, 2016).
One of the key issues around this debate is sentience and the ability to recognize that animals do have it. Current European law recognizes animals as sentient beings, able to feel pain, suffer and experience joy, and in 1998 a directive was signed putting into place five rules, better known as the “five freedoms”. These were composed of freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain, injury and disease, freedom to express normal behaviour and freedom from fear and distress. This in effect the animal equivalent of human rights. In 2009 the European Union recognized that animals are sentient beings and an extract from this article states. ‘With Brexit looming Compassion in World Farming are concerned that if the repeal bill is passed as it currently stands, future UK governments will have no obligation to treat animals as sentient beings’.