Enrichment for Animal Behaviorists

IAABC president Marjie Alonso welcomed members and guests.

The 2011 IAABC Conference was amazing. More than 300 International Association of Animal Behavior Consultant members involved in all aspects of animal behavior came together to share their experiences and information and listen to a stellar line-up of experts – the likes of Victoria Stilwell of “It’s Me or the Dog,” Tufts University veterinarian behaviorist Dr. Nicholas Dodman, Author and Certified Cat Behavior Consultant Pam Johnson Bennett, Dr. Frank McMillan of Best Friends in Utah, Ethologist Myrna Milani, radio show host and animal welfare advocate Steve Dale, and more. They covered such heavy-duty subjects as compulsive behavior, abuse and neglect, equine health,

Dr. Nick Dodman

psychological trauma, animal stress, aggression, and environmental enrichment.

As a cats-only person, behavior consultations are only a small part of what I do, so I felt like a minor league player in the big leagues. These people ate, lived and breathed animal behavior. Oh, for that opportunity.

Pam Johnson Bennett and Marilyn Krieger from the Cat Division.

In seeing the behaviors and training issues confronted by dog trainers and behaviorists, I realized the difference between dogs and cats is even greater than I could have imagined. Given the situations presented, I’m surprised there aren’t more neurotic dogs out there. I’m not saying that cats are problem-free, but their problems don’t get the same attention, and there are a lot fewer resources available to help their owners. And that may contribute to the fact that even though cats outnumber dogs and people have 2.3 cats on the average, they are still considered disposable.

Steve Dale and Irene Nathan

It’s a matter of education. Cat owners must realize that help is out there and they

don’t need to wait until a undesirable behavior is ingrained before seeking help. And certain behaviors are normal behaviors for cats, i.e. scratching. Much bad cat behavior stems from boredom (especially among inside-only cats) and enriching their environment along with a bit of fun clicker training can go a long way toward making everyone happy.


About ExclusivelyCats
Sally Bahner is an expert in all aspects of cat care: Writer, consultant, speaker, instructor.

5 Responses to Enrichment for Animal Behaviorists

  1. Jane Ehrlich says:

    On behalf of us feline behaviorists–where, oh where, can we get transcripts? Matter of fact, as there is no feline behavior journal to begin with, how can we learn about the latest data, research, findings, you name it??

    • I find it frustrating as well. So many articles read “pet” and they turn out to be dog-centric. I even did a google scholar search, but came up with a lot of older stuff. The IAABC Cat Division is small, but we share anything and everything that comes across our desks. There’s the new Cat Health Network and Cat-alyst Council, Winn Feline Foundation. Lots of them address health issues, but not a lot cover behavior.

      • Jane Ehrlich says:

        ‘Xactly! How can I find out if I’m registered in the Cat Divison? (I’m a general member…)
        Many thanks,
        Jane Ehrlich

      • Jane: Email either Pam Johnson Bennett or Marilyn Krieger at catchair@iaabc.org. They can let you know or add you to the division. If you get regular Cat IAABC emails, you’re in the Cat Division. I have a day job and do a lot of freelance writing so it’s tough to find the time to build a consultation business. People don’t call on us until the situation is desperate, and even then, they’re not always willing to make the changes … or pay a fee for advice.

  2. Jane Ehrlich says:

    Gotcha, and I’m very grateful for your time and attention on this. It Is frustrating, to want to grow and become as sophisticated as possible when it comes to knowledge of feline behavior– and be stymied. I want the best for my clients, and for my own sense of purpose.

    Thank you!!

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