Royal Veterinary College Volunteer

Royal Veterinary College, the

Royal Veterinary College Volunteer

Researchers at the Royal Veterinary College are looking for volunteers to participate in a scientific study to identify behaviours associated with positive emotions in pet dogs.

Having a good understanding of how a dog’s behaviour reflects an emotional state can help dog owners and people working with dogs to better provide for their welfare. Typical behaviour that we often associate with happiness – tail wagging – can also be a sign of aggression or fear. Evidence suggests that misinterpretation of behaviour can lead to the development of behaviour problems in dogs for example a heightened fear of fireworks or difficulties when left alone.

The information gathered in the study will help to promote positive canine experiences, strengthen the human-animal bond and improve welfare assessments through providing better understanding of how canine emotions are expressed through behaviour. Researchers will also be looking at whether there are any clear differences due to dog breed, age or individual personality.

The study requires adult dogs (between 1.5 and 12 years old) of all breeds to attend a 1.5-2 hour session at the Royal Veterinary College’s Hawkshead Campus in North Mymms. During the session researchers will record the dog’s behaviour (tail wagging, ear postures, facial expressions), nose-temperature and heart-rate during different emotional experiences ranging from positive (getting treats, being stroked) to mildly negative (being muzzled, being left alone for 3 minutes).

A personality assessment will also need to be completed by the owner to see how behavioural reactions are influenced by personality.

Participating owners will receive a copy of the study results and will be entered into a raffle to win a £20 gift voucher (six available to give away). Participating dogs will receive treats throughout the study!

The study runs until August 2012 and sessions can be arranged at a time and date to suit including evenings and weekends. If you are interested in taking part please contact Emma Buckland on or 07868 206 239.

The Study reference for the ethics and welfare committee is URN 2011 0040H.

Notes for editors

  • The Royal Veterinary College is the UK’s first and largest veterinary school and a constituent College of the University of London. It also provides support for veterinary and related professions through its three referral hospitals, diagnostic services and continuing professional development courses.

Further Information

To request further information or an interview please contact: