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Studying individual’s abilities to interact with and train dogs
Good dogmanship involves best practice in dog-human interactions and has a fundamental role in the success of dogs as companions and co-workers.

Our aims

Dogmanship is all about an individual’s ability to interact with and train dogs. Good dogmanship involves best practice in dog-human interactions and has a fundamental role in the success of dogs as companions and co-workers. 

The dog-human partnership is highly relevant to all of us who adore our dogs and depend on them for companionship and work. Despite the ancient nature of this enduring partnership, dysfunctional relationships and their negative consequences (such as unwelcome behaviours and eventual relinquishment) persist.

Human behaviour affects dogs’ behaviour and emotional state, and can be pivotal to the success or failure of any dog-human teams. Our dogmanship research aims to characterise the human attributes that influence dog behaviour and identify optimal ways of interacting with dogs. Additionally, dogmanship examines the psychological underpinnings that can contribute to how humans interact with dogs. 

Dogmanship even helps to explain why many women show better dog handling and training skills than their male counterparts.

Reading a dog’s body language is a core skill in dogmanship. This RSPCA resource helps to simplify canine behavioural gestures and decipher what dogs are telling us.

Our research

Our research projects include:

  • Dogs and Human Health
  • Farm Dog Project
  • Learning theory
  • Senior Dog Project
  • Working Dog Alliance

Read more about our current projects.


For information about opportunities to work or collaborate with us, contact Professor Paul McGreevy via Research Supervisor Connect.

Our team

Paul McGreevy

Professor Paul McGreevy is one of only three veterinarians recognised worldwide by the RCVS as Specialists in Veterinary Behavioural Medicine. He has written 6 books, 30 chapters and over 200 articles in peer-reviewed journals. His team has revealed the traits associated with success in puppies undergoing training for guide work. Among other discoveries, Paul demonstrated the relationship between the distribution of retinal ganglion cells and nose length in the dog. This exciting finding shows that many different breeds have different vision and, therefore, cannot be expected to perceive the same visual stimuli or respond to the world in the same way. This has profound implications for trainers, handlers and keepers in that it helps them to better understand the animals in their care. 

Paul also heads the VetCompass initiative that has brought together all of the Australian veterinary schools to provide national disease surveillance for dogs, cats and horses.

Read more at Professor McGreevy's profile page. If you want to use Paul’s findings with your own dogs, it is worth consulting A Modern Dog’s Life.

Elyssa Payne

Elyssa Payne holds a B. Animal and Veterinary Bioscience (Hons.) and a PhD dogmanship. She is interested in helping people acquire the skills that allow them to become the best of friends to their dogs and addressing the issues that all too often lead to dogs being surrendered, relinquished and euthanased. Her research has shown how our own personality can influence the way we train dogs.

Elyssa is now using her knowledge to help educate dog owners to be reflective practitioners of dogmanship and consequently achieve the best possible relationships with their dogs.

You can read Elyssa’s PhD thesis and contact her via her website.

Mia Cobb

Mia Cobb holds a BSc(Hons) in Zoology, and worked in animal shelter and working dog facilities for over a decade, before shifting focus to research and promote the welfare of Australia’s working and sporting dogs. From 2007, she led the federal government Australian Animal Welfare Strategy’s working group for dogs used in work and sport, overseeing two major projects. She believes in helping scientific research escape academic journals, so she established the popular canine science blog, Do You Believe in Dog? Mia is nearing completion of a PhD at Monash University, researching human attitudes, kennel management practices and the subsequent welfare, stress and work performance of kennelled guide dogs.

Mel Starling

Melissa Starling holds a BSc (Hons) in zoology and a PhD on dog behaviour, personality, emotions and cognition. She has long had a passion for animal behaviour and animal training that has only intensified the more she learns. She has experience training flighty prey animals as well as bold, opportunistic dogs. 

Melissa understands that sometimes our animal companions behave in ways that are upsetting and make us feel responsible, frustrated, or unhappy even as we simultaneously feel helpless to change their behaviour. Melissa likes human psychology almost as much as animal psychology. 

You can read Mel’s PhD thesis and contact her though her website.

Sophie Masters

Sophie is the project manager for our flagship app, doglogbook. She has many years’ experience in managing projects and programmes, mostly in a museum context. For much of this time she was working in visitor programming and services, so she appreciates the need to prioritise the needs of the users. She has experience in rolling-out new software systems, has conducted training and has written various documents and manuals to support these processes. Sophie is also currently working on VetCompass, a related national veterinary research project that will increase our understanding of the diseases, conditions and treatments of dogs, cats and horses. It meshes neatly with the data on dogs from doglogbook.

If you have questions about doglogbook and how to use it to monitor your dog’s behaviour and welfare, please contact Sophie by email.

Paul McGreevy

Professor of Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare Science
  • +61 2 9351 3957
  • R.M.C. Gunn B19

Sydney School of Veterinary Science