Preliminary observations are an important step to be undertaken prior to any formalised recording of behaviour, and are necessary in order to become familiar with an animal’s behavioural repertoire (Martin and Bateson, 1993). They involve undertaking general observations of the animal over a period of time (Martin and Bateson, 1993), are important in helping us to decide what recording measures would be most suitable to answer the question we are posing, and let one check that the hypothesis which will be tested can be investigated appropriately (Martin and Bateson, 1993).
Preliminary observations are used to create an ethogram; an ethogram being an essential first step prior to conducting behaviour observations (Plowman, 2010). Ethograms contain descriptions and definitions of behaviours which we plan to observe, and increases both objectivity and reliability of research. Ethograms are useful tools in helping to not only create a benchmark from which we can adapt as necessary, but also in helping us to decide and realise what we are looking for when doing behavioural observations.