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Current research

Members of the Anthrozoology Research Group are regularly at work on different projects exploring the interactions between humans and other animals, with some of our projects featured below. If you are seeking specific information about our research, please contact us directly. We will get back to you as soon as we can with more information.

A Pup’s Tale: What makes the human-dog relationship successful?

The first few years of a puppy’s life are full of adventure, and just like humans, it takes a village to raise one.

Our ARG researchers are tracking puppies over the first few years of their life, to see how experiences with their breeder can shape their temperament, behaviour, and their relationship with their new owner. We hope to identify the factors which contribute to a successful dog-owner relationship, so that we can inform best practice for owners, breeders, and other pet professionals.

Changing lives: How do assistance dogs benefit the families and children who receive them??

Through our work at ARG, our team has received many anecdotal reports from families who have benefited from acquiring an autism assistance dog for their child. However, very few studies have explored such benefits.

We believe that the best way to advance the field is to develop an evidence base. At ARG, we are conducting long-term research, following families before and after they acquire an assistance dog. Our hope is that this research will contribute to policy makers’ understanding of the benefits of assistance dogs, so that these assistance dogs can be more accessible to the families which need them.

Puppy raiser experiences and practises: How can we improve on assistance dog success rates?

Demand for assistance dogs is high. Unfortunately, about 50% of puppies in assistance dog programs do not complete their training, increasing the time taken for a handler to receive an assistance dog.

Past research has focused on how to select the right puppies for these programs. ARG researchers are expanding upon this research by focusing on the valuable contributions and experiences of the community members who volunteer to raise these dogs. Our research suggests that more support, improved training methodologies, and collaboration with training organisations, are the keys to greater success in this developing field.

Sniffing “superpower”: Can volunteers train their pet dogs for conservation work?

Dog noses are extraordinary, with dogs using their sense of smell to locate food, avoid predators, and identify new and old friends. These powerful noses, combined with the ability to cover challenging terrain and large distances, make dogs ideal for locating wildlife.

Researchers at ARG have been collaborating with community volunteers and their dogs, training these human-dog teams to detect animals such as the vulnerable Greater Glider and the endangered Alpine Stonefly. Detecting these animals helps with conservation efforts, by collecting population numbers and information about health and diet.