Companion animal professionals are working very hard to bring our chosen profession out of the Dark Ages and into the 21st Century! Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot of research that addresses companion animals, specifically; so we are often floundering about trying to take the findings of laboratory research done on other species and apply it to companion animals in an uncontrolled environment.
Additionally, most companion animal professionals are not trained in scientific research. We do not know how to read or – more importantly – evaluate studies to know if the findings are valid or relevant.
The goal of this series is to gain a basic understanding of how studies of dog behavior are conducted and how to read them. Some of the questions we will address are: What data do the experimenters present? How did they obtain it? Are their results generalizable? What are the scope and limitations of the study?
To accomplish our goal, we will explore several current findings, considering how theoretical claims in the field of canine behavior have been supported (or not) with empirical research. With this series under your belt, you should be able to confidently consume, interpret, and critically evaluate results on a variety of topics on your own.
The papers to be read in class, one per class, include two peer-reviewed publications and one recent dissertation.
Course 1: Hiby, E.F., Rooney, N.J., and Bradshaw, J.W.S. (2004). Dog training methods: Their use, effectiveness, and interaction with behaviour and welfare. Animal Welfare, 13, 63-69.