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Dr Emily Blackwell - University of Bristol. Bristol, , GB

Dr Emily Blackwell Dr Emily Blackwell

Lecturer in Animal Behaviour and Welfare | University of Bristol


Leader in the lifestyles and mental welfare of dogs, cats and companion animals

Areas of Expertise (6)

Animal Psychology

Animal Behavior




Animal Welfare


Dr Emily Blackwell is baed at the Bristol Veterinary School where she explores the behaviours of companion animals including dogs, cats and rabbits. She is particularly interested in the development and treatment of behavioural disorders, such as separation anxiety, fear of loud noises and aggression and runs controlled clinical trials to determine the efficacy of novel therapies. She is also currently working on novel ways to assess the welfare in dogs and cats, using behavioural tests for measuring the optimism and pessimism and functional MRI scanning to observe brain patterns in awake dogs.

Dr Blackwell has worked as an adviser and appeared as an expert contributor on several TV series, such as Channel 4's series 'Dogs: Their Secret Lives'. She also works with the pet industry on educational campaigns, training methods, toys and other pet products. She runs a world-leading longitudinal study of cats, called the Bristol Cats Study, which examines the health and welfare of cats from birth to older life. She is a Certificated Clinical Animal Behaviourist (CCAB).






Dog's behaviour when left home alone and treatment for separation-related problems Dogs Their Secret Lives S01e04 720p PitPat - Play Masterclass - Play outside the box #playrise



Education (2)

University of Bristol: Ph.D., Clinical Veterinary Science 2008

University of Leicester: B.Sc., Zoology 1998

Affiliations (5)

  • Appointment to Council of Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB)
  • Chair of ASAB Accreditation Committee and Director of ASAB Accreditation Committee Ltd
  • External Examiner for MSc in Clinical Animal Behaviour at University of Edinburgh
  • Member of ASAB Accreditation Committee
  • External Examiner for MSc in Clinical Animal Behaviour at University of Edinburgh

Media Appearances (5)

Dog owners need positive reinforcement, too

Veterinary Practice News  online


“The study also shows the emotional impact attempting to manage a reactive dog can have, with its associated ups and downs,” Dr. Blackwell adds. “It is therefore important for practitioners to consider the well-being of the owner as well as the dog, including the potential implications of this, when helping them along their journey.”

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Bristol scientists seek dogs with special toys for attachment study

BBC News  online


Dr Emily Blackwell, from Bristol Veterinary School, said: "The results will provide fascinating insights into the evolution of social behaviour in both dogs and their owners alike."

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Top tips to keep your dog calm during fireworks season

Lancashire Evening Post  online


Here Dr Blackwell shares her tips. She said: “A fear of loud noises is hugely common in dogs, and there can be a wide range of triggers. These include very loud noises such as fireworks, gunshots and thunder to the less intense sounds around the house such as doors banging or the noise of a dishwasher tablet being dropped.

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What happens when you leave your dog at home alone: Scientists reveal the stress pets go through when isolated

Daily Mail  online


Dogs are most stressed just after you leave because they have learnt to responds to the signs that you are going, according to Dr Emily Blackwell, an expert in human-animal reactions from the University of Bristol.

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Why do dogs lick people?

Science Focus  online


Here’s a question for anyone forced to wipe canine saliva off their face today: why do dogs lick people? Unfortunately, at the moment, it’s not possible to know exactly what dogs are thinking as they try to mop your entire face with their tongue. However, experts have several ideas about the function of this behaviour.

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Articles (5)

Evaluation of Interferon-Gamma Polymorphisms as a Risk Factor in Feline Infectious Peritonitis Development in Non-Pedigree Cats-A Large Cohort Study


2020 Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a common infectious cause of death in cats, with heritable host factors associated with altered risk of disease. To assess the role of feline interferon-gamma gene (fIFNG) variants in this risk, the allele frequencies of two single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (g.401 and g.408) were determined for non-pedigree cats either with confirmed FIP (n = 59) or from the general population (cats enrolled in a large lifetime longitudinal study; n = 264). DNA was extracted from buccal swabs or tissue samples.

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Analgesia in pet rabbits: a survey study on how pain is assessed and ameliorated by veterinary surgeons

Veterinary Record

2020 In the last 20 years, two studies on the veterinary use of perioperative analgesia in small mammals reported a limited use of analgesics in rabbits but suggested an increasing use over the years. The aim of this study was to better understand how pain is treated and ameliorated in rabbits while under veterinary care.

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Assessing the welfare of kennelled dogs—A review of animal-based measures

Applied Animal Behaviour Science

2019 Hundreds of thousands of dogs are housed in kennels worldwide, yet there are no standard protocols for assessing the welfare of dogs in these environments. Animal science is focusing increasingly on the importance of animal-based measures for determining welfare states, and those measures that have been used with kennelled dogs are reviewed in this paper with particular focus on their validity and practicality.

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Managing the Risk of Aggressive Dog Behavior: Investigating the Influence of Owner Threat and Efficacy Perceptions

Risk Analysis

2019 Aggressive behavior in pet dogs is a serious problem for dog owners across the globe, with bite injuries representing a serious risk to both people and other dogs. The effective management of aggressive behavior in dogs represents a challenging and controversial issue. Although positive reinforcement training methods are now considered to be the most effective and humane technique to manage the risk of aggression, punishment‐based methods continue to be used.

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Behavioral Interventions as an Adjunctive Treatment for Canine Epilepsy: A Missing Part of the Epilepsy Management Toolkit?

Frontiers in Veterinary Science

2019 Epilepsy is a common, complex and often challenging neurological disorder to treat in the dog, with 20–30% of dogs resistant to conventional medical therapies, and associated with cognitive and behavioral comorbidities and early death. Behavioral interventions are an emerging area of focus in the adjunctive treatment of drug-resistant human epilepsy patients, with studies indicating positive effects of a variety of interventions including relaxation-based techniques and behavioral therapy interventions.

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