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CCOG for VT 114 Winter 2024

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Course Number:
VT 114
Course Title:
Domestic Animal Behavior
Credit Hours:
1
Lecture Hours:
0
Lecture/Lab Hours:
20
Lab Hours:
0

Course Description

Covers basic concepts relating to domestic animal behavior, including normal behavior; how animals learn; methods of behavioral modification; and common animal behavioral issues. Prerequisites: Admission to the Veterinary Technology Program.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Explain the process of domestication and its impact on the behavior of domestic animals compared to their wild counterparts.
  2. Describe differences in sensory perception, intraspecies communication, and social structure in the major domestic species, and explain the influence of these factors on the normal behavior of each species.
  3. Apply knowledge of neonatal development in animals, including their critical sensitive periods for socialization, to provide appropriate care, handling, and owner education.
  4. Explain the types of learning as they apply to domestic animal species, including habituation, classical conditioning and operant conditioning.
  5. Describe methods of animal behavioral modification and how they are used to alter animal behavior. Explain which methods are recommended, which are not, and why.
  6. Apply knowledge of animal fear and aggression to safely and humanely work with domestic animals in the veterinary setting. 
  7. Use an understanding of common animal behavioral issues to provide appropriate recommendations and education to veterinary clients.

Course Activities and Design

Lecture/lab sessions will include demonstrations and practice of concepts presented in the course. This may include handling, training, and/or behavior modification of domestic animal species. Field trips may also be utilized to supplement on-campus lab activities and learning

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Grading will be based on student comprehension of course content, as assessed by periodic examinations, homework assignments, and class participation. To be eligible for a passing grade, the student must attend a minimum of 80% of class sessions.

These outcomes will be routinely assessed and used to drive relevant changes in the curriculum.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

1.0 DOMESTICATION

Instructional goals: 

  • Develop an understanding of the domestication process, including the physical and behavioral differences between domestic animals and their wild counterparts. 
  • Develop an understanding of how these differences shape our relationships with domestic animals.

2.0 NORMAL BEHAVIOR OF DOMESTIC ANIMALS

Instructional goals:

  • Develop comprehensive knowledge of the sensory perceptions, intraspecies communications, and social structure of the dog, cat, horse, cow, sheep, goat and swine. 
  • Develop an understanding of how these factors shape normal behavior in each species.
  • Develop an understanding of how these factors influence handling of each species.

3.0 BEHAVIORAL DEVELOPMENT 

Instructional goals

  • Develop comprehensive knowledge of the developmental stages of animals in the first year of life, including a detailed understanding of the sensitive periods of socialization and their impact on adult behavior in the dog and cat.

4.0 HOW ANIMALS LEARN

Instructional goals:

  • Develop an understanding of the different types of animal learning, including habituation, classical conditioning, and operant conditioning.
  • Develop an understanding of the ways in which each of these types of learning may significantly alter an animal's behavior--whether intended by humans or not.

5.0 METHODS OF BEHAVIORAL MODIFICATION

Instructional goals: 

  • Develop a working knowledge of the concepts and tools that can be used to modify animal behavior, including:
    • Shaping
    • Reinforcement intervals
    • Positive and negative reinforcement
    • Desensitization
    • Counterconditioning
    • Positive and negative punishment
  • Develop an understanding of which of the above methods are recommended, which are not, and the reasons why.
  • Develop an understanding of why dominance theory, with its basis in misinterpretation of animal behavior, should never be utilized in animal handling and behavioral modification.

6.0 ANIMAL FEAR AND AGGRESSION

Instructional goals: 

  • Be able to recognize and correctly interpret the physical indicators of fear in the major domestic animal species.
  • Develop knowledge of different types of animal aggression, including:
    • Territorial
    • Social
    • Pain-induced
    • Fear-induced
    • Predatory
    • Maternal
  • Develop an understanding of the most common types of aggression encountered in the veterinary setting.
  • Develop knowledge of which human behaviors may reduce fear and aggression in veterinary patients, and which human behaviors are likely to make fear and aggression worse.

7.0 BEHAVIORAL ISSUES IN THE DOG AND CAT

Instructional goals:

  • Develop knowledge of selected canine behavioral issues, which may include (but not be limited to):
    • Separation anxiety
    • Leash reactivity
    • Destructive behavior (chewing)
    • Barking
    • Digging
    • Jumping up on people
    • Intraspecies aggression
    • Human-directed aggression
  • Develop knowledge of selected feline behavioral issues, which may include (but not be limited to):
    • Housesoiling
    • Destructive behavior (clawing)
    • Intraspecies aggression
    • Human-directed aggression
  • For each of the above, develop an understanding of appropriate recommendations and client education, and commonly employed treatment strategies.

8.0 BEHAVIORAL ISSUES IN LIVESTOCK SPECIES

Instructional goals:

  • Develop knowledge of selected livestock behavioral issues, which may include (but are not limited to):

    • Stereotypic behavior (e.g.: weaving)

    • Cribbing

    • Feather pecking and plucking

    • Intraspecies aggression

    • Human-directed aggression

  • For each of the above, develop an understanding of appropriate recommendations and client education, and commonly employed treatment strategies.