Find out about our animal behaviour, cognition and welfare research and how you can get involved

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the answers to some of the questions that owners have when they are thinking about getting involved with our research and practical activities. If you are not able to find the answer to your question here, please contact us to find out more.

Anyone who owns a dog!

Currently we are only recruiting dog owners. However please keep checking the website regularly as we will soon be recruiting other pet owners.

Of course! Although we cannot guarantee that every pet can take part, pets of any age, health, breed and behaviour are welcome on the database. Some health and behaviour problems may mean that your pet is not suitable for every project, but with a wide range of practical activities taking place they might one day have the perfect profile. In fact, some problematic behaviours are actively welcomed as we may be studying the effects of a treatment on the behaviour. It could even give you an insight into useful behaviour and training techniques which could actually help to resolve the problem!
We do not have a specific catchment area, however we do require that you are able to travel to and from the University of Lincoln’s Riseholme campus with your pet. The distance you travel is therefore up to you, but please note that we are not normally able to offer reimbursement for any expenses incurred.
All that we require of you is that you are able to travel to and from the University of Lincoln’s Riseholme campus with your pet, at an agreed time convenient to yourself. Occasionally a project may require owner participation, however in general our activities do not require you to stay with your pet if you are unable to or choose not to.
Each activity has different requirements of which you will be informed before you agree to take part. For some, it may be possible for you to remain in the same room as your pet during the sessions. However as the owner can often be a distraction, this will not be possible at all times. You may sometimes be able to watch your pet through special one-way glass or via video link in a nearby room and occasionally projects will require owner participation.

If you choose to drop your pet off at the University and collect later in the day, the University is often able to accommodate your pet. At present, there are no kennel facilities available at the University. However, when not taking part in a project or practical, your pet can often remain with an allocated student or in a crate (you may wish to bring your own if you have one) in your absence. For dogs this might involve being taken for a walk around the picturesque campus or settling on a bed in a classroom (you never know, they might pick up some useful training tips listening to the lectures!).

An Estate’s project is planned for 2014 involving development of a training building and holding area. This will comprise of state of the art kennels and an exercise area designed to ensure that your dog remains stress free in the care of staff and students.

The fantastic thing about being involved in the projects and practicals at the University is that we are grateful for any amount of time that you are able to offer. Even if you can only give half an hour once a year, your time may be invaluable to our understanding of pet behaviour, cognition and welfare.
When a project or practical arises that is suitable for your pet, we will get in touch with you via your preferred contact method to find out if you are able to volunteer your pet. The project will be fully explained to you and any questions you have can be answered.
The type of activities that your pet could get involved in are usually found in one of three categories:

  • Observational - these projects often involve simply watching your pet in a particular situation.

  • Behaviour / Training tasks - these projects typically involve your pet being trained a new skill. These type of projects do not just take place with dogs – other pets can be trained too!

  • Training skills practicals - these are student based practicals. Our undergraduate and postgraduate students hone their training skills by handling and teaching pets various tasks.

Examples of previous projects include:
  • Can dogs be taught self-control?
  • Do dogs behave differently when they see unfamiliar people or dogs versus familiar people or dogs?
  • Is yawning contagious in dogs?
  • Do dogs pay more attention to hand signals or verbal cues in training?
  • The effects of pheromones on firework fears.
You can opt out at any time, even if your pet is currently taking part in a project or practical, with no obligation to provide explanation. You will also be contacted yearly to ask if you wish for your details to remain on the database.
You certainly can! We are grateful for any amount of time that you can give and appreciate that your time is valuable. Our aim is to be as flexible as possible to accommodate you and your pet.
Unfortunately at the present time we are unable to reimburse any travel expenses incurred.

Projects and practicals primarily take place at the University of Lincoln’s Riseholme campus, situated only 3 miles north of Lincoln. You will be informed if the activity will be in a different location to this before you agree to take part.

For directions to our Riseholme campus, please click here.

Without exception, your pet’s welfare is a priority at all times. At the University all work is overseen by appropriately qualified staff and our Research Ethics Committee. If staff or students working with your pet have any concerns, your pet will be withdrawn from the activity and we will discuss the situation with you. In occasional cases we may need to withdraw your pet from the study, if it responds unexpectedly to a situation, although this doesn’t happen very often. In addition, if you have any concerns you may opt out at any time without any obligation to offer explanation.

People often tell us how much their dogs have enjoyed themselves; their dog’s wagging tail and smiling face give them away! We have even been told that dogs are so excited to arrive at the University that they are almost dragging the owners through the doors! All projects are subject to ethical review.

Some projects may require videos or photographs to be collected so that they can be reviewed later, as this helps with data collection. Occasionally we like to use photos or videos of our activities as teaching material, or to promote our courses, the work that we do and also to encourage other people to get involved. However we always ask permission before using photos or videos for any of these purposes.
There are a number of ways in which you may benefit from being involved in our research:

  • Opportunities to further your knowledge and understanding of your own pet, building on your relationship and learning new training techniques.
  • Opportunities to ask questions and learn more about training and behaviour from leading professionals in the field of animal behaviour and training.
  • At the end of the day, you can probably be assured a tired and very happy pet having been involved in fun, mentally stimulating activities!
  • The option to receive an overview of each project you have taken part in once it is completed.
frequently asked