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The Study Group’s Second Adventure: The Truth About Cats and Dogs

If you have a dog or cat or are considering one, learn how to fulfill their needs and become a better pet owner with this enjoyable course.

Towards the end of the first course Excel Fundamentals for Data Analysis for our remote study group, we started considering what to try next.

Dhawal set up a rather complex system in which we all suggested three courses, then we voted on our preferences. After two rounds of voting, we ended up enrolling in the course The Truth About Cats and Dogs.

Another Class Central team member who had not taken the Excel course also joined the study group. Soon, the Study Group communication channel on Slack became populated with charming photos and videos of various cats and dogs posted by our group members.

Cats & Dogs Photo
Pets of Class Central

The Truth About Cats and Dogs is provided by the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education (JMICAWE) of The University of Edinburgh. With expertise in animal welfare education, JMICAWE also provides a range of resources in animal welfare education including two other MOOCs on Coursera: Animal Behaviour and Welfare and Chicken Behaviour and Welfare.

Instructors are Dr Heather Bacon, Hayley Walters, Dr Amy Miele, and Professor Nat Waran. Their love of animals shines throughout the course.

In the final study meeting, one of our colleagues shared his amazing experiences as a volunteer at a not-for-profit animal shelter.  

Know More About Dogs and Cats

Dr Heather Bacon, Professor Nat Waran, Dr Amy Miele, and their pets

This 5-week course is helpful for both beginners and more experienced pet lovers. It covers a wide range of details about dogs and cats, including domestication, ethology, breeds, genetics, senses, communication, intelligence, emotion, socialization, training, health and welfare.

“Useful suggestions for training pets are also provided: how to discourage bad conduct while promoting good behavior.” – Pat.

“I inherited my cat from my roommate, so I never really researched cats (or any other animals). This course was my first formal introduction to this topic.” – Dhawal.

Unlike wild animals, our pets rely on us to provide for their needs and welfare. Discussed in detail in Week one, the five welfare needs are a suitable diet, a suitable living environment, to be able to behave normally, to have appropriate companionship and to be kept in good physical health. Providing these welfare needs is not only an ethical responsibility, it can also be a legal duty, being enshrined in UK legislation by the introduction of the UK Animal Welfare Act in 2006.

The course emphasizes the many benefits of having pets in the family, but warns to always supervise children and pets in the home. Children might accidentally hurt or frighten the pet, leading to possible injury to the child from sharp teeth or claws.

Dogs have been domesticated for between 15,000 and 30,000 years, while cats have been living with humans for around 10,000 years. Although these may appear to be extensive times, we still need to understand and accommodate their natural needs and behaviors. Cats are now the most popular pet, with more than 500 million domestic cats worldwide.

“This course is a great chance to help you learn more about cats and dogs if you plan to have a pet and bring more wellness to your cute and furry friend.” – Rui.

Sharing Moments with Cats and Dogs

While the study group helped support us to finish the Excel course we took, the group’s role this time was more influential in encouraging us to take this particular course.

“I could have never even thought of doing this course without a study group.” – Suparn.

“Maybe I wouldn’t have been motivated to take the course on my own since I thought that I had a lot of experience with pets, especially with dogs. But there was still a lot to learn and to understand” – Heba.

In the final study meeting, one of our colleagues shared his amazing experiences as a volunteer at a not-for-profit animal shelter. Duties include feeding and giving medication, photographing animals for publicity and possible adoption, and keeping the shelter clean and fresh. As well as playing with the residents!

A Different Course Experience

After grappling with the exhausting Excel course for longer than the others, I turned with relief to this pleasant course. I watched most videos at 1.5 speed and zipped through the whole course in a few days. Although I didn’t mean to make it into a competition, some of the others who had started earlier were inspired to also complete the course quickly. One team member watched all the videos and took most of the quizzes on his mobile phone.

Another team member somehow enrolled in a future-dated session on Coursera and was unable to access the assessments until a week later.

After the desultory discussion boards on the Excel course, it was refreshing to see plenty of active discussion in this popular course. Each week, learners are encouraged to share their experiences with particular aspects of pets and people from all over the world are willing to add their own points of view. More than 40k threads are listed with several posts added each hour.

During the pandemic, this course was selected as one of the 115 Free Certificates from Coursera. The free certificate offer continues until the end of 2020.

Pat Bowden Profile Image

Pat Bowden

Online learning specialist, still learning after 200+ online courses completed since 2012. Class Central customer support and help since 2018. I am keen to help others make the most of online learning, so I set up a website:  www.onlinelearningsuccess.org

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