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Vice-Chancellor's Fellow Dr Emma Williams explores Dog owner safety

17 June 2019

Vice-Chancellor's Fellow Dr Emma Williams and research in to how dog owner behaviour impacts our relationship with our pets

In a new research paper, Dr Emma Williams explores how a changing approach to dog training techniques can reduce the risk of harm to dogs and their owners. The aim of the study was to find out what influences an owner’s decision to use outdated punishment-based methods and what the barriers and drivers were to dog owners using positive reinforcement-based solutions. In particular, the researchers wanted to explore whether theoretical models and psychological concepts used in other contexts could help them to understand this issue.

Dr Emma Williams, VC Fellow in Digital Innovation and Wellbeing in the School of Psychological Science, said: "The majority of research on companion animal behaviour has focused on the behaviour of the animal itself, rather than the behaviour of the owner. We believe this is the first time that psychological theories exploring how people respond to threatening situations, such as Protection Motivation Theory, have been applied to understand people’s interactions with their pets.”

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