Ethology is the scientific and objective study of animal behaviour, usually with a focus on behaviour under natural conditions, and viewing behaviour as an evolutionarily adaptive trait.Behaviourism is a term that also describes the scientific and objective study of animal behaviour, usually referring to measured responses to stimuli or trained behavioural responses in a laboratory context, without a particular emphasis on evolutionary adaptivity. Many naturalists have studied aspects of animal behaviour throughout history. Ethology has its scientific roots in the work of Charles Darwin and of American and German ornithologists of the late 19th and early 20th century, including Charles O. Whitman, Oskar Heinroth, and Wallace Craig. The modern discipline of ethology is generally considered to have begun during the 1930s with the work of Dutch biologist Nikolaas Tinbergen and by Austrian biologists Konrad Lorenz and Karl von Frisch, joint awardees of the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Ethology is a combination of laboratory and field science, with a strong relation to some other disciplines such as neuroanatomy, ecology, and evolutionary biology. Ethologists are typically interested in a behavioural process rather than in a particular animal group, and often study one type of behaviour, such as aggression, in a number of unrelated animals.
Understanding ethology or animal behaviour can be important in animal training. Considering the natural behaviours of different species or breeds enables the trainer to select the individuals best suited to perform the required task. It also enables the trainer to encourage the performance of naturally occurring behaviours and also the discontinuance of undesirable behaviours.