Categories
Health Pets Psychology Research

Just walking the dog: what promotes healthy humans?

Did you know scientists are studying the ways that you walk your dog?

What motivates you, how long you exercise for, what features (like footpaths and dog parks) promote human activity – all these questions and more, are being studied by researchers, Hayley Christian and Carri Westgarth.

Hayley’s background in human health teamed with Carri’s expertise in canine behaviour and welfare have created a research team exploring the human, dog and environmental factors that best promote active and healthy communities.

Podcast

Publications

Dog walking benefits! Dr Carri Westgarth & Dr Hayley Christian
Dr. Carri Westgarth & Dr. Hayley Christian

Westgarth, C., Christley, R. M., & Christian, H. E. (2014). How might we increase physical activity through dog walking?: A comprehensive review of dog walking correlatesInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity11(1), 83. [PDF]

Christian, H., Trapp, G., Villanueva, K., Zubrick, S. R., Koekemoer, R., & Giles-Corti, B. (2014). Dog walking is associated with more outdoor play and independent mobility for childrenPreventive medicine67, 259-263.

Westgarth, C., Christley, R. M., & Christian, H. E. (2014). How can we motivate owners to walk their dogs more? Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research9(6), e6-e7.

Christian, H. E., Westgarth, C., Bauman, A., Richards, E. A., Rhodes, R., Evenson, K. R., & Thorpe, R. J. (2013). Dog ownership and physical activity: a review of the evidence. J Phys Act Health10(5), 750-759.

Westgarth, C., Boddy, L. M., Stratton, G., German, A. J., Gaskell, R. M., Coyne, K. P., & Dawson, S. (2013). A cross-sectional study of frequency and factors associated with dog walking in 9–10 year old children in Liverpool, UKBMC public health13(1), 822.

Morrison, R., Reilly, J. J., Penpraze, V., Westgarth, C., Ward, D. S., Mutrie, N., & Yam, P. S. (2013). Children, parents and pets exercising together (CPET): exploratory randomised controlled trialBMC public health13(1), 1096.

Christian, H., Giles-Corti, B., & Knuiman, M. (2010). “I’m Just a’‐Walking the Dog” Correlates of Regular Dog WalkingFamily & community health33(1), 44-52.

For more publications, please see the researcher’s university profiles below.

Links

Hayley Christian: University of Western Australia profile

Carri Westgarth: University of Liverpool (UK) profile

Header image: Flickr/Stefan Mortellaro

Categories
Behaviour Cognition Pets Research

Is your dog optimistic? Cognitive bias in animals

Does your pet have a glass half full, or glass half empty take on life?

It’s a recent discovery that many animals can be optimistic or pessimistic based on their experiences.

Dr. Melissa Starling holds a Bachelor of Science in Zoology and recently gained her PhD from the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney with a topic that covered elements of dog behaviour, personality, emotions and cognition.

She has long had a passion for animal behaviour and animal training that has intensified as she learns more.

In this episode, we talk to Mel about her PhD research investigating optimism and pessimism – or cognitive bias – in dogs.

Podcast

Publications

Starling, M. J., Branson, N., Cody, D., Starling, T. R., & McGreevy, P. D. (2014). Developing an optimism index using results from a cognitive bias taskJournal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research9(6), e17-e18.

Starling, M. J., Branson, N., Cody, D., Starling, T. R., & McGreevy, P. D. (2014). Canine Sense and Sensibility: Tipping Points and Response Latency Variability as an Optimism Index in a Canine Judgement Bias AssessmentPloS one9(9), e107794.

Starling, M. J., Branson, N., Cody, D., & McGreevy, P. D. (2013). Conceptualising the Impact of Arousal and Affective State on Training Outcomes of Operant ConditioningAnimals3(2), 300-317.

McGreevy, P. D., Starling, M., Branson, N. J., Cobb, M. L., & Calnon, D. (2012). An overview of the dog–human dyad and ethograms within itJournal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research7(2), 103-117.

Dr Melissa Starling - Cognitive Bias in Dogs
Dr Melissa Starling – Cognitive Bias in Dogs

Links

Melissa Starling on Twitter (@dogoptimism)

Creature Teacher (personal website)

Dog Optimism on ABC Catalyst

Video – Optimism in Dogs (Melissa Starling)

Optimism in Dogs

Cover image: Flickr/hoodsie

Categories
Animal Welfare Pets

Boarding kennels: are dog kennels cruel?

What happens when your scientific study results contradict all previous research in that area?

Science can be surprising, and for Dr Lisa Collins, researcher in Animal Health and Welfare Epidemiology at the University of Lincoln, UK, that’s part of the challenge – and the fun!

Lisa’s research focuses on the development and application of mathematical and statistical methods for the study of animal health and welfare in a wide range of species.

She has recently led three research projects to investigate the welfare of kennelled dogs.

This includes a 3-year study conducted in dog rehoming centres, where the aim was to develop a tool to assess Quality of Life based on a wide range of novel and traditional welfare indicators.

Lisa has been awarded a number of prizes for her work, including the 2014 British Science Association Charles Darwin award for excellence in science communication, and the 2010 Universities Federation for Animal Welfare’s Young Animal Welfare Scientist of the Year award.

In this episode, we speak with Lisa about her work comparing the welfare physiology and behaviour of pets dogs at home and in a boarding kennel environment, with some unexpected findings.

Are dog kennels cruel? Let’s find out.

Podcast

Publications

Dr. Lisa Collins – Are dog kennels cruel?

Kiddie, J. L., & Collins, L. M. (2014). Development and validation of a quality of life assessment tool for use in kennelled dogs (Canis familiaris)Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 158, 57-68.

Part, C. E., Kiddie, J. L., Hayes, W., Mills, D., Neville, R. F., Morton, D. B., & Collins, L. M. (2014). Physiological, physical and behavioural changes in dogs (Canis familiaris) when kennelled: Testing the validity of stress parametersPhysiology & behavior, 133, 260-271.

Collins, L. M. (2012). Welfare risk assessment: the benefits and common pitfallsAnimal Welfare21(Supplement 1), 73-79.

Asher, L., Collins, L. M., Ortiz-Pelaez, A., Drewe, J. A., Nicol, C. J., & Pfeiffer, D. U. (2009). Recent advances in the analysis of behavioural organization and interpretation as indicators of animal welfareJournal of the Royal Society Interface, doi:10.1098/rsif.2009.0221.

More publications by Dr. Lisa Collins via ResearchGate

Links

Lisa Collins on Twitter

LinkedIn: Lisa Collins


Header image: Flickr/Jeff Hill

Categories
Animal Welfare Pets Research

Wild behaviour: the science of why cats like boxes

Sandra McCune holds a PhD that examined the temperament and welfare of caged cats as well as qualifications in vet nursing and zoology. She knows the answer to why cats like boxes, and the science behind it.

In her current role as the Scientific Leader for Human-Animal Interaction at the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, she manages a large portfolio of collaborative research projects.

These projects cover many aspects of human-animal interaction, in countries including US, UK, Austria, Germany, Sweden and Australia.

In addition to having written research papers and book chapters on several aspects of cat behaviour, cognition, welfare and nutrition, Sandra has lectured and advised many animal shelters, ethologists, animal welfarists, and groups of vets and vet nurses.

Sandra is sought out as a voice within industry and regularly speaks at international conferences on pet ownership issues and the bond between people and pets.

Today we’re talking to Sandra about pet cats, their incomplete domestication, our attachment to them and the behavioural links between wild big cats, and the cat in your home.

We also find out why cats like boxes!

Podcast

Books

Sandra McCune - why cats like boxes
Sandra McCune

McCune, S. (2010) Book chapter: ‘The domestic cat’. In: The UFAW handbook on the care and management of laboratory animals. 8th edition. Longman Scientific & Technical, Harlow.

McCardle, P, McCune, S, Griffin, J A and Maholmes, V (Eds.) (2011) How Animals Affect Us: Examining the Influence of Human-Animal Interaction on Child Development and Human HealthWashington, DC: American Psychological Association Press. 2011

Kurt Kotrschal, Jon Day, Sandra McCune and Manuela Wedl (2013) Human and cat personalities: building the bond from both sides. Chapter 9 In: Dennis Turner and Pat Bateson (Editors) The domestic Cat: The biology of its behaviour. CUP, Cambridge

Publications

Sandra McCune, Katherine A. Kruger, James A. Griffin, Layla Esposito, Lisa S. Freund, Karyl J. Hurley, and Regina Bures. (2014) Evolution of research into the mutual benefits of human–animal interactionAnimal Frontiers vol. 4 no. 3 49-5

Carri Westgarth, Lynne M Boddy, Gareth Stratton, Alexander J German, Rosalind M Gaskell, Karen P Coyne, Peter Bundred, Sandra McCune and Susan Dawson. (2013) Pet ownership, dog types and attachment to pets in 9–10 year old children in Liverpool, UK. BMC Veterinary Research, 9:102

Sandra McCune (1995)The impact of paternity and early socialisation on the development of cats’ behaviour to people and novel objects. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 45(1–2): 111–126.

Links

Waltham Human-Animal Interaction Research

Waltham Science Publications & Resources

Video – Why cats like boxes

Why cats like boxes

Header image via Flickr:klengel

Categories
Pets Research

Free roaming cats: attack of the unknowns

In Part 2 (catch up on Part 1 here) of our conversation with Mark Farnworth of Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland, New Zealand, we learn what the scientific research can tell us about the success of methods to control free roaming (owned and unowned) cat populations – and what it can’t.

We talk about Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) versus lethal control, where does responsibility lie and can an effective population management compromise be reached without all the facts?

Podcast

Links

Free roaming cat laws Australia
Free roaming cats

Mark Farnworth: Research Gate Profile

Unitec: Dept of Environmental and Animal Sciences

G2Z Australia National Cat Action Plan:
Draft currently seeking feedback


Image credit: Flickr/TomPoes

Categories
Pets Research

Free roaming cats: a phantom menace?

Mark Farnworth, from the Department of Natural Sciences at Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland, New Zealand, is curious about cats.

Cats as pets and cats as pests. Are cats a threat to biodiversity or are they possible caretakers of biodiversity?

This interview was fascinating, and the topic complex, so we are releasing it in two parts.

In this – part one – we introduce Mark’s research examining the issues, impact and attitudes toward free roaming (both owned and unowned) cat populations in New Zealand.

Part two can be found here.

Podcast

Links

Mark Farnsworth - Free roaming cats
Mark Farnsworth

Mark Farnworth: Research Gate Profile

Unitec: Dept of Environmental and Animal Sciences

G2Z Australia National Cat Action Plan:
Draft currently seeking feedback

PART 2 OF INTERVIEW: HERE

Image credit: Flickr/Amber Brooke

Categories
Anthropology Pets Psychology Research

Anthropomorphism: are we guilty?

Are we guilty of anthropomorphism in dogs? As dog owners it’s very easy to humanise our pets.

Julie Hecht, MSc, is a researcher and science writer fascinated not just by animal behaviour and welfare, but how we think about animals and the consequences of those thoughts.

Take anthropomorphism (attributing human characteristics to animals or objects) as a key example.

In this episode of Human Animal Science we explore what actually happens when we think that dog is guilty; or that cat is grumpy.

We discuss why we anthropomorphise and how it impacts on the animals.

Podcast

What is anthropomorphism in dogs?

Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics to non-human entities.

In dogs, it can manifest as attributing emotions such as love, loyalty, and happiness to dogs, or expecting dogs to understand and communicate with us in ways that they do not. At least not in the same ways we do.

Do dogs know the difference between humans and dogs?

Dogs are intelligent creatures who are capable of complex social interaction, which means they’re able to pick up on our cues and learn from us.

However, studies show dogs actually see us as a member of their pack, not a separate species.

This means dogs do not necessarily know the difference between humans and dogs, but are capable of forming attachments to both.

Links

Dog Spies: www.dogspies.com  |  Dog Spies Blog on Scientific American

Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab (Barnard College, Columbia University, New York)

The Bark magazine

Do You Believe in Dog?

Publications

Hecht, Miklosi, & Gacsi (2012) Behavioral assessment and owner perceptions of behaviors associated with guilt in dogs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 139. 134-142.

Do dogs feel guilty? Jason Goldman | Scientific American

Hecht & Horowitz (2012) Physical prompts to anthropomorphism of the domestic dog (Canis familiaris) Third Canine Science Forum, Barcelona, Spain. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 8, e30.

Horowitz (2009) Disambiguating the “guilty look”: Salient prompts to a familiar dog behavior. Behavioural Processes, 81, 447-452.

Horowitz (2007) Naturalizing anthropomorphism: Behavioral prompts to our humanizing of animals. Anthrozoös, 20, 23-35.

Image credit: Flickr/Brainware3000

Categories
Behaviour Pets

A duty of care: shelter dog rehoming assessments + science

In this episode, Kate Mornement, PhD candidate from the Anthrozoology Research Group and Monash University, talks to Mia and Tim about her research exploring the science of shelter dog assessments for rehoming suitability.

Shelter dog rehoming is a topic with significant outcomes for everyone: our communities, shelter staff, and of course – the dogs.

Podcast

How many dogs are in shelters in Australia?

In Australia we do not have a national system for tracking the number of dogs in animal shelters or municipal council pounds.

An estimated 200,000 or more dogs enter a pound or shelter annually in Australia, and many of these dogs (approximately one in three) are euthanised.

Links

What Do Current and Potential Australian Dog Owners Believe about Shelter Practices and Shelter Dogs? (2012) Anthrozoos 25 (4): 457-473

A Review of Behavioral Assessment Protocols Used by Australian Animal Shelters to Determine the Adoption Suitability of Dogs (2010) Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 13(4): 314-329

Development of the Behavioural Assessment for Re-homing K9′s (B.A.R.K.) Protocol (2014) Applied Animal Behaviour Science 151: 75-83. 

Image credit: Flickr/DustinQuasar