Refining Dog Care Website Launches

University of Stirling researchers aim to improve welfare of dogs with launch of new website (

University of Stirling researchers aim to improve welfare of dogs with launch of new website (

Researchers from the University of Stirling, Scotland, have today released a website which aims to improve the welfare of laboratory-housed dogs. The website, Refining Dog Care, is designed for a global audience of both scientific professionals and members of the public, providing information on dog use in scientific research, information on improving dog welfare and practical resources for use in animal facilities.

Initial Screenshot

The website has been developed by animal welfare researchers Dr Laura Hall and Professor Hannah Buchanan-Smith as part of a project funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to engage with industry for the purposes of improving laboratory-housed dog welfare, while raising public awareness of the use of dogs in research and the overarching principles of the 3Rs: Replacement, Reduction and Refinement.

In the UK, most dogs are used for regulatory safety studies for medicines which will be used in human patients, and research has shown that improving animal welfare can result in better quality scientific data with simple, practical changes (such as introducing positive reinforcement training). The principles of humane research are the 3Rs: Replacement, Reduction and Refinement. Refinement refers to methods which improve welfare or minimise harms associated with use in scientific research, and it is this principle which is promoted by the Refining Dog Care project.

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Dr Hall said: “Over 3500 dogs are used in research and testing in the UK every year, and over 100,000 globally, and yet there are few sources of information on effective Refinements specifically for laboratory-housed dogs. The Refining Dog Care website is part of an ongoing collaboration with UK industry which allows us to draw upon the experience of scientific and technical staff, while working together to develop new ways of improving welfare which also has the potential to improve scientific data.”

The website is the first of its kind to bring together information on laboratory-housed dogs from existing published research, industry expertise and research carried out by the project’s developers. It presents research-based resources such as tools for monitoring welfare, and photo and video guides to practical elements such as training.

Refining Dog Care image 2

Members of the public can also use the website to learn about the use of dogs in scientific research, including the types of research dogs are used in, methods of measuring and improving dog welfare and the benefits of providing Refinements such as positive reinforcement training and environmental enrichment.

Background information


Contact information

Any requests for information about the Refining Dog Care project or website should be directed to Dr Laura Hall at

Behaviour and Evolution Research Group, Psychology, University of Stirling

The Behaviour and Evolution Research group (BERG) is one of the research groups in the Psychology Division at the University of Stirling. The members of BERG conduct research into communication and cognition in humans, and animal behaviour, cognition, conservation and welfare. They publish high quality research which benefits a range of wild, and captive animals, including those housed in zoos and laboratories.

University of Stirling

The University of Stirling was the first new university to be established in Scotland for nearly 400 years, created by Royal Charter in 1967. Since its foundation, the University has embraced its role as an innovative, intellectual and cultural institution with an established reputation for blending arts and science.

Stirling is a University of distinction, home to leading researchers and scholars attracted by the unique learning environment, exceptional facilities and student-centred approach, where ability, not background, is recognised and valued.

Psychology at Stirling is committed to world leading scientific research, coupled with innovative and reflective research-led teaching. In the most recent National Student Survey, Psychology scored 91% for overall student satisfaction. In the recent REF2014, Psychology at Stirling was rated 3rd in Scotland, 18th the UK and 86% of our research outputs were rated as world leading or internationally excellent. We were also rated as best in the UK for research impact (100% 4* Impact). Very few other departments across the UK can offer such compelling evidence of combined research and teaching excellence. For further facts and figures about Stirling see:

Our research activities fall under three main themes - Health & Behaviour Change, Behaviour & Evolution, and Cognition in Complex Environments, with many individuals’ interests naturally crossing these boundaries. A common thread across our research projects is a theoretical understanding of behaviour in complex real-world settings. As a result we encourage inter-disciplinary and inter-institutional collaborations, and have strong research links with other disciplines and an emphasis on CPD and knowledge exchange activities. We support a range of postgraduate courses, including a long-running and highly successful BPS-accredited MSc in Health Psychology and a postgraduate courses in Human Animal Interactions.

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