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Dr Emily Blackwell


BSc Veterinary Nursing and Bioveterinary Science
BVSc Veterinary Science

Emily is an established research scientist with an international reputation and over fifteen years’ experience of co-ordinating and executing collaborative research into companion animal behaviour and welfare.

She has spent the last decade trying to understand how and why our pets behave as they do, playing a key role in advancing the knowledge base in companion animal behaviour and welfare. Emily is particularly interested in understanding how we can improve the lives of our pets, by predicting, preventing and treating the psychological disorders experienced by a significant proportion of pets.

Whilst there is a plethora of advice and behavioural modification protocols available to dog owners from sources such as the internet and magazines, few have received scientific scrutiny and Emily was one of the first pioneering researchers to scientifically validate treatment protocols for separation-related behaviour problems. In addition to her more applied work, Emily has also taken a leading role in more fundamental research into novel cognitive measures of welfare assessment such as cognitive biases and is currently developing research proposals which will utilise the new functional MRI facility at the veterinary school to investigate the proximal neural mechanisms driving dog-human social interaction.


 Specific research interests include:

  • Development of social behaviour in puppies, particularly the influence of early environment on adult behaviour
  • Welfare of dogs and cats in rehoming organisations
  • Development and treatment of problematic behaviours such as noise fears, aggressive behavior, inappropriate elimination and separation-related behavior in companion animals
  • Investigating the effects of different training methods used to train dogs
  • Developing methods for assessing the quality of life of companion animals

Research impact

Recognising that researchers working in veterinary science have an ethical obligation to make their research findings widely known and acted upon, Emily shares the benefits of her work through extensive public engagement, working with dog owning members of the public, charities and regulators. Her first significant media project was in 2013 when she became involved with the long running Channel 4 series, Dogs: Their Secret Lives, a series about dogs, their owners and the problems that they can sometimes encounter together! The great thing about this unique series was that it explored these issues scientifically, as well as providing helpful tips for owners 


Since then Emily has been involved both on and off screen on a variety of different programmes about companion animals, from those focusing on the importance of the early weeks of life in determining adult behaviour, such as The Secret Lives of Puppies and Kittens (Ch5) and Puppy Secrets: The First Six Months (ITV), to documentaries portraying the natural history of dogs, Dogs: The Untold Story (Discovery International) and most recently Me and My Dog: The Ultimate Contest and Countryfile Spring Diaries for BBC2.


Clinical Work:

As a Certificated Clinical Animal Behaviourist (CCAB) Emily helps owners to deal with a wide range of problematic behaviours, from pets that run and hide at the sound of fireworks or become distressed when left home alone, to those that show aggressive responses to people or other animals.


 With 21st Century lifestyles and owner expectations arguably placing more psychological pressure on pet dogs than ever before, it is clear that the development of this field is essential if the psychological welfare of pet dogs is to be protected.