During my undergraduate degree in Animal Biology here at the University of Guelph, I was thrilled to learn that animal welfare and behaviour science was a specific field of research I could pursue. From a young age I found myself questioning our right to use animals for our benefit and wondering what exactly our ethical responsibility was to ensure good welfare. I have always been fascinated by the relationship we have with non-human animals that share our planet and are ingrained in our society such as pets, agricultural animals and service animals to name a few.
Canine aggression is a serious threat to human health and safety as well as canine welfare. Current research suggests that early development is important to fully understand this behaviour, but studies to date are largely retrospective and reliant on owner reports, who only have experience with their dogs from adoption onwards. No research has looked at the effects of early puppy management on temperament development and subsequent aggression. My current PhD research with Dr. Lee Niel at the Ontario Veterinary College examines the relationship between early puppy management factors, fear and competitive tendencies in puppies, and later development of fear and different forms of aggression in adulthood.