cat and dog together unsplash

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 behavior and how they communicate with you will enable you to understand their needs better and strengthen your relationship with them.

This MOOC is divided into five topics, the appliance of science; behavior and body language, senses and perception; challenges for the human-animal relationship, including pet problem behavior; 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 worldwide and have changed over time. We ask if we can know what our animals are thinking or trying to communicate through their facial expressions and behaviors. 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 makeup may influence their behavioral responses and choices. We dispel common behavioral myths by looking through a scientific lens and asking questions about the function and development of their behavior. We explore how their senses help them interact with their world and 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 understand your pet better, enrich their lives, and help you become a more educated and confident pet owner.




Apr 26, 2020

Very useful, many new insights about cats and allowed me to get rid of many wrongs and overcome ideas about dogs! Interesting and gripping, almost effortless for me because of the fun I had! Thanks!


Mar 27, 2020

I learned so much about how to decrease stress for my pets and increase their happiness. I also learned how to better communicate with them. Thank you for helping improve my pet’s quality of life!


By Corey C

Jul 18, 2019

I must say, I agree that there is more information on dogs than there is on cats in this course. However, I understand why. Dogs have been domesticated and studied for longer. So, of course, we have more information about them than cats. I am more of a cat person, and I still think this course thoroughly covers information about cats. I think this course is essential for anyone who is caring for or wants to care for a cat or a dog in the future and is a great course to start with if you’re interested in working with animals as well. Overall, I have nothing but good things to say about this course.


By Anne G

Oct 8, 2020

This course is a very good overview for people beginning their studies of dogs and cats. Pertinent videos and additional resource suggestions provide further opportunities to study more details.

university of edinburgh, uk, old college, south bridge

The University of Edinburgh

Since 1583 the University of Edinburgh has been influencing the world, from Nobel laureates and Olympic champions to space explorers and prime ministers. As a world-leading, research-intensive university, we are here to address tomorrow’s greatest challenges. We do so with a values-led approach to teaching, research, and innovation and through the strength of our relationships – locally and globally. Ranked in the top 50 universities in the world, the University of Edinburgh has been a leader in digital education since the earliest days of online learning. Embracing the technological and pedagogical opportunities of our digital age, the University provides an outstanding online distance learning experience as part of our commitment to making learning accessible to all. We offer free short online courses in various subjects designed to build the global community’s skills and degree-level education through our online master’s programs. Visit our website to browse our catalog of online courses, and join our global network of 4 million learners to upskill and gain academic accreditation to boost your career.