Human-animal interaction (in Hungarian) (course code: bb2n1e17)

General obligatory, 2 credits, 90 minutes/weekly
Semester: autumn
Requirement: exam (5) (oral exam)
Responsible person: Márta Gácsi, PhD
Lecturer: Márta Gácsi, PhD

Recommended books:
Grandin, Temple (ed) 1998. Genetics and the Behavior of Domestic Animals (1998), Ed. by, Academic Press, San Diego, USA
Serpell, J. (ed) 1995. The Domestic Dog – Its Evolution, Behaviour and Interactions with People Cambridge University Press, UK

DETAILED TOPICS OF THE COURSE:
The role of applied ethology in modern ethological research: Economical aspects; Welfare considerations; A new category: pets
How can we define „pets”? Cultural and ecological aspects; The notion of „natural environment”
Behavioural changes: genetical and developmental processes – Effect of evolution: domestication; The role of individual experiences and learning: taming; Habituation
Mechanisms of socialisation – The role of human in the conspecific recognition system; Socialisation with conspecifics; In what extent does living with humans change the species specific social system?
The dog – an evolutionary bestseller? Comparison of the social behaviour of the wolf and dog; An unusual scenario for domestication; Social role in the human environment – pack or family? Comparison of the intraspecific and interspecific social behaviour of dogs; Dog-human attachment as a human analogue social relationship
Aggression – The biological function of aggression; Where and how does the aggressive behaviour towards conspecifics and humans differ? What do we know about the role of the innate and environmental factors influencing aggressive behaviour?
„Abnormal” behaviour – How can normal or abnormal behaviour be defined? Ontogenetical factors; A possible new therapeutic method: calming pheromones
A non-social pet – the cat – The nature of social relationship between human and cat; Alternatives in territory use; Predatory behaviours
“Beasts” as pets? Natural environment and the demands for keeping conditions; Dangerous and/or endangered? An experiment trying to model domestication: foxes selected for tameness
Interspecific communication – Human-animal communication; The signals applied in interspecific communication: how do species specific behaviour patterns change; In what extent are pets able to comprehend human communicational signals?
The physiological aspects of functioning as a pet – Stress sensitivity; Mechanisms controlling reproductive behaviour
The behaviour of pets in shelter conditions – Social relations in case of different keeping conditions; Behaviour testing: methods and problems; Social rehabilitation
Welfare considerations – written and unwritten laws – EU regulations; The problem of cultural differences; Social acceptance – civil organisations, charities

The aim of the course is the presentation of the basic theories and most recent experimental results regarding companion animals with special influence on the evolutionary aspects and ethological methodology. Competencies to develop:

  1. ability to define and apply basic concepts (companion animal, applied ethology…), ability to compare and evaluate critically the anthropomorphic and evolutionary approach
  2. knowledge about the biological background of the behaviours of companion animals – genetic basis, socialisation process, environmental effects, physiological aspects
  3. evolutionary explanation of interspecific social behaviour – species-specific differences, summing up the results of experimental studies: socio-cognitive abilities, inter-specific communication
  4. ability to explain and analyse natural and „abnormal” behaviours in companion animals, characterisation of the possibilities and methods of behaviour modifications – the problems of utilizing experimental results
  5. critical comparison of ethological findings and welfare aspects, basic knowledge on legal aspects