SINGAPORE – Understanding how to train blind dogs and knowing the limitations of treats were among many insights shared in the Animal and Veterinary Service’s (AVS) first webinar about the science behind animal behaviour on Tuesday (Oct 27).
Conducted over six months, the free webinars are part of the AVS’ efforts to improve competencies in the pet industry and the public.
Launched in August 2019, the review of the sector included a programme which led to 27 stray dogs finding homes as well as a dedicated centre for rehabilitation slated to open in 2021.
Featuring international experts in ethology, animal behaviour and welfare, the webinar series began with a two-day session on Tuesday focusing on dog behaviour.
“Tapping into the science of animal behaviour will allow us to better interact with our pets, and provide them with better care and management,” said Minister of State for National Development Tan Kiat How.
Having trained police officers on understanding canine behaviour and rat handlers to uncover mines in Angola, Dr Roger Abrantes from the Ethology Institute in Portugal explained principles of animal behaviour modification and conditioning.
Showing your dog clear signals was one of the tips shared by Dr Abrantes.
“Making signals without the brain is like cooking an omelette without eggs. Making signals without the heart is like cooking with a lukewarm pan,” he said.
Body language and a good attitude are also key to training dogs, he added.
The session on canine rehabilitation and training by Dr Abrantes attracted up to 260 viewers when it was streamed live on YouTube.
One takeaway I had was to think from the animal’s perspective, said Dr Chow Haoting, who attended the session.
“There is no formal education available for dog owners in Singapore. So I think it would be quite eye-opening for dog owners to learn about research out there,” said the 31-year-old locum veterinarian at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).
The next session, which takes place on Wednesday, features Dr Jenna Kiddie, head of canine behaviour at Dogs Trust UK. Dr Kiddie will advise on how to improve the mental and physical well-being of dogs.
Participants can sign up for the event on the AVS website or catch it live at 4.30pm on the National Parks Board (NParks)’s YouTube channel.
Subsequently, there will be two other sessions in the webinar series, focusing on feline behaviour and animal-assisted interactions.
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