|The long-overdue acceptance that pets have emotions very much like our own has been pivotal in a reappraisal of the modern behaviourists approach to behaviour problems is pets.
We now realise that, even though the precise measurement of emotions remains elusive, FEELINGS are an essential element of how pets, and humans for that matter, learn anything!
So it makes good sense to start with the FEELINGS when dealing with behaviour problems in pets, such as aggression, over-grooming, nervousness, etc.
This approach was developed by the behaviourists at the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology (COAPE) and has been adopted as the standard my many successful behaviour therapists all over the world.
Typically this 'emotional approach' is carried out in three stages:-
- An emotional assessment: This is an assessment of what emotions the pet is experiencing whilst engaged in the problem behaviour.
- A mood state assessment: This is an assessment of how the pet feels generally from one day to the next.
- A reinforcement assessment: This is an holistic appraisal of the entire situation aimed at identifying the factors responsible for maintaining the problem behaviour. These factors commonly persist, despite rigorous and varied attempts to eliminate them by owners, trainers and behaviourists.
So, by recognising that cats, dogs and other pets experience emotions very much like our own, instead of simply judging them by their behaviour, modern animal behaviourists are now learning to solve behaviour problems in pets much more humanely and effectively.