Research Fellow in Animal Behaviour and Welfare
I graduated in Biological Sciences from Leicester University (Hons, 1st class), before completing a Post Graduate Certificate in Education. I then worked as a research assistant at the Wildlife Conservation and Research Unit, at the University of Oxford, studying mink anatomy and diet analysis.
I then moved to Southampton University to study for my PhD, entitled “Play Behaviour of the Domestic Dog, and its Effects upon the Dog-Human Relationship”, which I completed in 1999. I have since continued to work in the field of human-animal interactions, and have run many research projects on working dogs including: examining selection criteria, determining effects of rearing environment, measuring working ability, and assessing and improving the welfare of specialist search dogs. I have supervised PhD, MSc and BSc projects, on various aspects of the welfare of pet and working dogs. I have also conducted several research trips to Indonesia, studying and supervising research on rainforest-dwelling primates, and their interactions with humans.
Since 2003, I have worked as a part-time Research Associate within the Animal Welfare and Behaviour Group at the University of Bristol. I also currently pursue my interest in wildlife tourism in the developing world, leading tours in Africa several times per year. In addition, I work as an independent consultant to the RSPCA and helped produce the RSPCA Codes of Practice for the care of both dogs and cats, the RSPCA Performing Animals Guidelines, and recently coordinated and co-authored an Independent Report entitled “Pedigree dog breeding in the UK: a major welfare concern?”
regularly review papers from five international journals, have presented papers
at numerous international conferences, and, in 2008, I represented the
I am interested in applied aspects of the interactions between humans and animals including the follow areas:
· Development of indicators of welfare and quality of life for domestic dogs;
· Play behaviour as an indicator of welfare in domestic and captive animals (e.g. dogs and guinea pigs);
· The effects of different types of training method upon the behaviour and welfare of domestic dogs;
· Methods for assessing, and determination of factors affecting the ability of working dogs and their handlers;
· Determination of optimal rearing and housing conditions for companion species;
· The effects of exaggerated anatomical features upon the behaviour and welfare of breeds of domestic dog;
· Dog-dog and dog-human signalling, specifially play signalling and inter-breed differences;
· The effects of tourism upon the behaviour of wild animals.
My research has been funded primarily by grants from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).
Rooney, N.J., Gaines, S.A. & Hiby. E.F. 2008. Practitioner's guide to working dog welfare Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 3(4), 180.
Gaines, S.A. Rooney, N.J. & Bradshaw, J.W.S. 2008. The effect of feeding enrichment upon reported working ability and behavior of kenneled working dogs. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 53 (6), 1400-1404.
Rooney, N.J. 2008. Book review Ádám Miklósi, Dog Behaviour, Evolution, and Cognition, Oxford University Press, Oxford (2007). Animal Behaviour 76( 2), 515-516
Rooney, N.J, Gaines S.A, Bradshaw, J.W.S. & Penman S. 2007. Validation of a method for assessing the ability of trainee specialist search dogs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 103(1-2), 90-104.
Rooney, N. & Gaines, S. 2004. How should we select and rear specialist search dogs? Research at the Defence Animal Centre Chiron Calling RAVC Magazine, Winter / Spring Edition.