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Dr Rachel Casey

Dr Rachel Casey

Dr Rachel Casey
BVMS(Glas), PhD(Bristol), Dip(AS)CABC, Dip ECVBM-CA

Senior Lecturer in Companion Animal Behaviour and Welfare

Area of research

Companion animal behaviour and welfare research

Langford House,
Langford, Bristol BS40 5DU
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 928 9368


My research interests are in the area of companion animal behaviour and welfare. I study both fundamental aspects of behaviour such as personality characteristics, and applied studies such as validation of treatment programmes for undesired or apparently ‘abnormal’ behaviours.

One area of research is in understanding and measuring individual differences or personality characteristics, and how these influence the risk of undesired behaviours such as aggression occurring in companion animals. I am also interested in behavioural and physiological welfare assessment in companion animals, for example through evaluation of decision making processes such as ‘cognitive bias’ as an indication of underlying affective state. My work also includes the use of different welfare indicators to evaluate different environmental and social situations, as well as the assessment of how human activities such as training methods impact on companion animals.

My other research interests include:

  • epidemiological approaches to understanding risk factors associated with the occurrence of undesired behaviour in companion animals
  • the early development of behaviour
  • the dynamics of social groupings in companion animals
  • the relationship between stress and diseases such as idiopathic cystitis or gastro-intestinal disease
  • the prediction, prevention and treatment of undesired behaviour in companion animals

Research keywords

  • Animal personality
  • Companion animal welfare
  • Dog cat and horse behaviour
  • Human-animal interactions
  • Training methods and learning in animals
  • Veterinary behavioural medicine


The outcomes of my research have considerable impact on the welfare of companion animals. For example, my research into welfare measurement and enhancement for cats in rescue organisations has influenced housing and enrichment policy in major charities. My research has also contributed to the debate in more controversial areas, such as the welfare consequences of the use of electronic training devices in domestic dogs, and comparing different approaches to training dogs. These data have had wide influence on the policy and practice of a number of welfare organisations.

I am also actively involved in the promotion of high welfare standards for companion animals, and the development of professional standards in clinical practice. For example, I am a member of the International Cat Care Behaviour Expert Panel, and a past member of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) Scientific Committee, the Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC), the Advisory Council for Welfare Issues in Dog Breeding, and Cats Protection Advisory Council.


Further information about Dr Rachel Casey can be found here.


My background is as a referral clinician in veterinary behavioural medicine, and I have a number of clinical qualifications and accreditations. I am a Diplomat of the European College of Animal Welfare and Behavioural Medicine, a Certified Clinical Animal Behaviourist with the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB) Accreditation Committee, and a Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Recognized Specialist in Veterinary Behavioural Medicine.

The relatively poor evidence base for clinical activity in this area inspired my interest in research. Initially this was mainly applied and clinical studies, such as validation of temperament tests in dogs and investigating the compliance of owners to behavioural advice, but my research areas now include more fundamental studies, such as comparison of welfare indicators and measures of personality.

I graduated as a veterinary surgeon from Glasgow University in 1991, and became interested in behavioural disorders whilst working in general practice. I completed a part-time post graduate diploma in Companion Animal Behaviour Counselling, i.e. Dip(AS)CABC, with distinction from the University of Southampton in 1998, and shortly afterwards started working at the University in a clinical behaviour and teaching role. Funding by Cats Protection as lecturer in Feline Behaviour and Welfare led to a move to Bristol University’s Animal Welfare and Behaviour group in 2003.

I completed a part-time PhD in feline behaviour in 2008 at Bristol, and am currently a Senior Lecturer in Companion Animal Behaviour and Welfare. I lecture internationally in various aspects of companion animal behaviour, teach on BVSc, BSc(Hons) Animal Behaviour and Welfare, and CertHE Companion Animal Welfare and Behavioural Rehabilitation courses, run a residency programme in clinical behaviour, and lead a research group in companion animal behaviour and welfare.

In 2010 I was awarded the RSPCA BSAS Award for Innovative Developments in Animal Welfare for "outstanding contribution and commitment to improving companion animal welfare, particularly in the area of training techniques used to modify the behaviour of dogs".

I publish general information about my areas of interest at, blog at, tweet as @DrRachelCasey, and I'm on Google+ (intermittently.)


I teach on the undergraduate veterinary prgramme, with lectures and practicals on applied ethology and learning in year 2, seminars in years 3 and 4, and lectures on clinical behaviour in veterinary practice in year 4.

I also teach extensively in the third year of the BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour and Welfare programme on companion animal behaviour and welfare, as well as aspects of clinical practice, such as the use of psychopharmacological agents in veterinary behaviour. 

The other course I teach on is the Certificate in Companion Animal Welfare and Behavioural Rehabilitation, a course which provides an academic vocational qualification for those working as behaviour advisors in animal rescue centres and other welfare or working animal organisations.


  • Animal personality
  • Companion animal welfare
  • Dog cat and horse behaviour
  • Human-animal interactions
  • Training methods and learning in animals
  • Veterinary behavioural medicine

Selected publications

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Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system


Dr Casey currently teaches 6 courses:

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