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Ohio 4-H Youth Development

Ohio State University Extension


PetPALS Understanding Animal Behavior & Communication

Objectives. To help young people:
  • Learn how animals communicate.
  • Develop an understanding of their animals’ behavior.
  • Develop an understanding of animal behavior for each species studied.
  • Identify their animals’ behavior in various situations.
  • Learn how stress affects animals.
  • Identify the signs of stress in animals studied, including their own.
  • Learn how to reduce stress in their pets.
  • Recognize calming signals in animals studied, including their own.
  • Determine if their animals are appropriate for AAA.
Background Information

Not all pets are suitable for animal-assisted activities. Visiting pets must possess predictable qualities that inspire confidence in the people they visit. Many animals make great family pets, but do not learn all of the skills necessary for animal-assisted activities. Early handling and socialization can influence the learning ability and trainability of pets. Proper socialization is a necessary beginning step for pets to become 4-H PetPALS. 

During 4-H PetPALS visits, 4-Hers must have control of their pets at all times. It is extremely important for members to be able to predict their animal’s behavior. Knowing how their pets communicate will help prepare them to notice and react to certain behaviors they might display.