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Coursera: The Truth About Cats and Dogs

 with  Dr Heather Bacon, Miss Hayley Walters, RVN, Dr Amy Miele, Professor Nat Waran and Louise Connelly
What is your cat revealing to you when she purrs? What is your dog expressing when he yawns or wags his tail? Understanding your cat and dog’s behaviour and the way they communicate with you, will enable you to better understand their needs and strengthen your relationship with them.

This MOOC is divided into five topics, the appliance of science; behaviour and body language, senses and perception; challenges for the human-animal relationship, including pet problem behaviour; and how to improve the quality of life for cats and dogs in our care.

At the start of the course we ask you to consider what you feel is important to your cat/dog and what your cat/dog means to you? We explore the world of cats and dogs and how our relationships with them vary around the world and have changed over time. We ask if we can really know what our animals are thinking or trying to communicate through their facial expressions and behaviours.

From our beloved pets to street dogs, shelter dogs/cats and welfare challenges, we explore the world from their perspective and examine how their genetic make-up may influence their behavioural responses and choices. We dispel common behavioural myths by looking through a scientific lens, asking questions about the function and development of their behaviour.. We explore how their senses help them to interact with their world and how they communicate with each other and us!

Finally, we ask whether we impose unrealistic expectations on our cats and dogs and how this affects their ability to live alongside us. We ask, what can we do to be more responsible pet owners and to ensure the welfare of all cats and dogs in society? This MOOC explores different scientifically validated methods that can help you to better understand your pet, to enrich their lives and help you to be a more educated and confident pet owner.

We hope you enjoy the course!

Syllabus

The Appliance of Science
In week 1, we provide 'an insight into cats and dogs behaviour: through their eyes'. We will explore cats and dogs of the world and ask you what you cat and dog mean to you, as well as what you feel is important to your cat and dog. At the end of the week, you will be able to complete the first of the graded quizzes. We hope you enjoy the MOOC as much as we have enjoyed making it!

Ethology
In week 2, we will we explore ethology, which is the scientific and objective study of non-human animal behaviour, rather than human behaviour, and usually with a focus on behaviour under natural conditions. There will also be an opportunity to look at different breeds of cats and dogs and some of the possible issues that arise from breeding. At the end of the week, you will be able to complete the second of the graded quizzes.

Sense and Sensibility
In week 3, we aim to explore cat and dog sensory capabilities and how they interact with their world. We will explore how our cats and dogs communicate with us and each other. We will also examine how their specific senses work and how they use these to operate effectively such as to solve problems, hunt, and play. At the end of the week, you will be able to complete the third of the graded quizzes.

Living with humans
In week 4, we explore the domestic environment and how our cats and dogs adjust to this (or not). We will also discuss what behaviours may arise due to the unrealistic expectations that we may impose on our pets. The videos this week, will help you recognise the signs of fear, frustration, and anxiety, as well as other behavioural problems in cats and dogs. At the end of the week, you will be able to complete the fourth graded quiz.

Can We Do Better? Improving Pet Quality of Life
In the final week of the course we want to reflect on what we have learned so far and start to consider how we can make changes. In doing so, improving our beloved cats and dogs lives for the better, for example through enriching their environment, training, and appropriate care at all stages of their lives (from kittens/puppies through to old age). At the end of the week, you will be able to complete the fifth and final of the graded quizzes.

1 Student
review
Cost Free Online Course (Audit)
Pace Upcoming
Subject Science
Provider Coursera
Language English
Certificates Paid Certificate Available
Calendar 5 weeks long
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FAQ View All
What are MOOCs?
MOOCs stand for Massive Open Online Courses. These are free online courses from universities around the world (eg. Stanford Harvard MIT) offered to anyone with an internet connection.
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How do these MOOCs or free online courses work?
MOOCs are designed for an online audience, teaching primarily through short (5-20 min.) pre recorded video lectures, that you watch on weekly schedule when convenient for you.  They also have student discussion forums, homework/assignments, and online quizzes or exams.

1 review for Coursera's The Truth About Cats and Dogs

Write a review
2 months ago
Rebecca Judd completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.
I went into this course feeling like I was already quite experienced with living with cats and looking after them, and something of a novice regarding dogs and their needs. I expected to learn a lot about dogs, and hoped to learn some new things about cats. The course lived up to those expectations. I've picked up a f Read More
I went into this course feeling like I was already quite experienced with living with cats and looking after them, and something of a novice regarding dogs and their needs. I expected to learn a lot about dogs, and hoped to learn some new things about cats.

The course lived up to those expectations. I've picked up a few new nuggets of information about cats, which I've immediately been able to apply to life with my cat. My already-spoilt kitty is hopefully even happier in his little kitty life.

I also learned a fair bit about dogs, which will be a decent basis to start from should I ever decide to take the plunge and get a canine companion.

This MOOC wasn't perfect, though. My first problem with it was that some of the quiz questions seemed a bit irrelevant. The ones that stick in my mind were about identifying breeds of dogs and cats, which hadn't really been covered in the videos beyond a few specific breed examples — which didn't relate to these quiz questions. These seemed a bit pointless as quiz questions; they didn't seem to have any deeper connotation, such as "and what does that mean for X breed's potential health conditions or lifestyle needs?" I think other quiz questions may have felt a bit off too, and there sometimes seemed to be a bit more of a focus on dogs than cats. I wouldn't mind that, but I expected a roughly 50/50 split on focus between dogs and cats given how the course was presented in the title and in early course videos.

The only other big problem I had with the course was the final week's material seemed both a bit rushed and decidedly skewed towards dogs. It was interesting to learn about dogs, but again: I was expecting more of a 50/50 split on focus. Also, the material in the final week didn't really feel "new" or like it particularly built on previous weeks.

All that said, I did enjoy the course, and I'm glad I took it and learned some things to help give my cat a better life. I also liked the video about dogs on the street, which seemed like a bit of a different idea compared to most MOOCs, and added an extra layer to the course.
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