The SEEKING system – a fascinating core emotion

This week’s topic takes off from last week’s post on improving animal welfare by integrating two models of emotions, and is all about the SEEKING system.

If you don’t have six minutes, here’s the major take-home message:

  • SEEKING is a multi-purpose emotional system that helps animals find resources
  • SEEKING is about expectation
  • We do animals a disservice by serving food in bowls rather than engaging the SEEKING system
  • If we’re not offering acceptable SEEKING opportunities, animals may engage in unwanted behaviour instead
  • Clicker training engages the SEEKING system, which explains the focus, energy, ease of learning and retention typically seen in clicker-trained animals.

The webinar replay that I mention at the end of the video is no longer availabe, unfortunately. But if you sign up to get blog updates I’ll also keep you posted on future free webinars and online courses!

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8 Replies to “The SEEKING system – a fascinating core emotion”

  1. Sounds interesting, but how does one feed cats in a”seeking” way with raw food (I make my own – using chunked or ground meat)? Really don’t want to put it anywhere other than in a bowl /plate that I clean up afterwards

    1. hmm… do a search for “cat puzzle enrichment” and see if you find something that inspires you..! Some sort of device that contains the food and that needs a bit of work on part of the cat to retreive it.

      1. Hi Katrina,
        I have a VERY active cat. When we got him (as a rescue, almost choked and starved by a fox snare around his neck) he was too afraid to go outdoors. So I built “castles” with little boxes, egg cartons and toilet paper rolls and hid treats in them. He had to go search for them and get them out with his paws. I am sure you could hide raw food in something like that. Sure, I had to rebuild quite often, but we got him past that first winter without anyone loosing their sanity. Even now (he is outdoors a lot now and is an avid hunter) he gets his breakfast in a special kong for cats. The top is hollow plastic with a small hole in the base. It gets screwed on a weighted base with a rim so you fill the food in there. It’s meant for kibbles, but if you form little clumps with the raw meat I’m sure you could use it for raw feeding as well. The cat has to roll and dip it, so the food will fall out of the hole.

    2. I hide the plates in the kitchen, bathroom, utility room etc under egg cartons or just any carton so my cat can find it and has a bit of work to “unwrap” the plate… Not the same spot every day…

  2. How to arrange a foodseeking environment to a chinchilla? Her only food, except hay is small pellets? I used to have rats. It was easier…

    1. Dear Maria,

      I’d arrange for her to have to “work” to get access to both hay and pellets. Pulling strands of hay through a device with small holes in it? I know some people have tested drilling holes into a piece of nontoxic wood and then wedging food in the holes; then the animal needs to gnaw to open the hole enough to access the food. I’m not too familiar with chinchillas, do their teeth grow? if so, that might be a good idea to help them keep them in check. If not, I’d be more careful. Good luck! 🙂

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