Nicola Rooney

Head shot of smiling woman in dark blouse.

Dr. Rooney's research focuses on the behavior and wellbeing of companion animals, and their interactions with humans. She is particularly interested in play behavior and in developing ways of measuring, prioritizing and improving the welfare of companion species.

Much of her work has focussed on domestic dogs, and she has an international reputation in the field of working dog performance and welfare having spoken at many international meetings, and contributed to numerous policy documents and guidelines. 

She has headed a team conducting research on working dogs, working collaboratively with many agencies worldwide. Her research aims to improve both dog team performance and also individual dog welfare. Research topics include: 

  • Examining working dog selection criteria and breed differences in ability.
  • Investigating the effects of rearing environments on search dog ability.
  • Exploring the effects of different types of training method upon the behavior and welfare of domestic dogs.
  • Developing methods for measuring working ability.
  • Determining optimal handler selection.
  • Developing training resources for military handlers to recognize and quantify dog behavior.
  • Assessing and examining ways of improving the welfare of kenneled dogs. 


Several of the findings of this research have been adopted by working dog agencies in the UK and overseas to derive policy aimed at improving performance and welfare of their dogs. Dr. Rooney is currently part of a team researching aspects of racing greyhound welfare, working with the industry in order to improve welfare.

Bio adapted from Bristol Veterinary School website.