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. Please click on a question to see the answer. 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, cat, horse or reptile! We will only ask dog and cat owners to bring their pets to the University – all reptile and horse studies will be based around at home videos or online surveys. You do not have to bring your dog or cat in to be able to take part – there is the option for you to only take part in home-based projects too!

You can sign your pet up to our database via a quick online form, that can be accessed from our sign up page. The form will ask for basic information about yourself and your pet and should take no longer than 5 minutes to complete. There is no limit to the number of pets that you can register!

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 and questionnaires 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's Brayford or Riseholme campus with your dog or cat if you choose to take part in projects that are not based around online or home-based activities. The distance you travel is therefore up to you, but please note that we are unfortunately not able to offer reimbursement for any expenses incurred. There are no geographical restrictions for online surveys or home-based activities, although some studies may require you to live in a certain country or area and this will be clearly specified.

Please click here for maps of our Brayford Campus and Riseholme Campus and directions to Lincoln. 

All that we require of you is that you are able to travel to and from the University of Lincoln’s Brayford or Riseholme campus with your pet, at an agreed time convenient to yourself, and/or that you are prepared to complete surveys or training at home. Many of our projects allow you to stay with your pet whilst they take part if you travel to the University, however you can choose to drop them off and collect them at an agreed time if owner participation is not required. Please click here for maps of our Brayford Campus and Riseholme Campus and directions to Lincoln. 

You do not have to take part in every project that is offered to you – you can pick and choose whether to take part each time a study is offered to you. You also have the right to withdraw from a project at any point, without the need to give an explanation if you choose to do so.

If you choose to drop your pet off at the University and collect them after the project, your pet will remain with an allocated student or researcher in your absence, who will exercise and care for them as appropriate until you return to collect them.
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. There is no minimum or maximum time requirement!
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. If you then choose to take part, your details will be forwarded on to the students or researchers running the project and they will contact you to organise convenient sessions, or send you the relevant information, in order for you to take part.

Yes – your details are kept on a secure database which is managed by one person, the database coordinator. Your details will not be passed on to an undergraduate/MSc student or researcher unless you have given permission for us to do so. On rare occasions, post-doc researchers or PhD students may be given email addresses of appropriate potential participants in order for them to contact you themselves – they are required to follow the University's data protection guidelines in the same way that the database coordinator does. We will only ever pass on your name, email/phone number and basic details about your dog (name, sex, breed, age); your address is there to help us identify those that are close to the University when looking for participants to attend projects. If you no longer wish for your details to be on the database, you can contact us at any time to be removed, without need for an explanation.

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. To opt out, please contact us.

If you need to update your contact details please get in touch and let us know of any changes. You can also advise us of any changes with your pet if you wish to do so e.g. neutering, changes in behaviour etc. The database coordinator will update the details on our system.

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 Brayford Campus, at our animal behaviour building (Minster House). You will be informed if the activity will be in a different location to this before you agree to take part. We also have some projects take place at our Riseholme Campus, which is located 3 miles north of Lincoln. Directions can be found here.

Absolutely! Please keep an eye on our surveys page, where we will post links to any online questionnaires and surveys that you may be able to take part in. We will also sometimes contact you directly to ask if you would be willing to take part in specific surveys, or home-based activities such as taking videos of your pets' behaviour or training.

Absolutely! We don't invite reptiles or horses to leave their homes, but please keep an eye on our surveys page, where we will post links to any online questionnaires and surveys that you may be able to take part in. There will also sometimes be the opportunity to take part in home-based training, or to take videos of your pet so our researchers can observe particular behaviours.

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, we will discuss the situation with you. In occasional cases we may need to withdraw your pet from the study, if they respond 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.

We cannot guarantee that your pet will enjoy taking part, as each animal is individual and they all enjoy different things. However, people often tell us how much their dogs have enjoyed themselves; their 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! We hope that pets of all species will enjoy our projects, but if they don't we will never continue with a project if it affects animal welfare and you are free to withdraw your pet at any time without explanation.

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, you will always be asked permission for us to use photos or videos for any of these purposes, via a consent form at the start of every project.

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.

As at March 2022, participants are allowed to attend projects at the University if they feel safe to do so. We are following Government and University safety guidelines at all times. We are still encouraging the use of face coverings in enclosed settings, but you are not required to wear one.