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  • Writer's pictureKristin Williams

Science has gone to the dogs.

The Dog Science Group is an international community of dog enthusiasts collaborating with professional scientists to improve our understanding of the dogs we love. Their mission is to put dog people together with scientists conducting studies to improve the understanding of health and behaviour of modern, 21st century dogs. The research is completely ethical; if you participate, you might be asked to fill out a survey regarding your dog’s behaviour or health, or take a video of your dog doing something specific, or if you happen to be in the right place at the right time, you might even be able to join a live trial group near you.

By joining, you will be part of a growing band of 'Dog Citizen Scientists' who love dogs and share an interest in helping people learn more about them. Don’t worry if you don’t live with a dog as some studies will involve anyone who is interested in dogs, not just owners.

At the time of this blog entry, there are several trials you can become a part of, such as:

  • Canine Attachment Study (to determine whether purebred dogs are more likely to exhibit attachment behaviour than mixed breed dogs)

  • Itchy Dog Project - Phase 2 (to examine the possible genetic and environmental causes of canine atopic dermatitis)

  • Dog Ageing Project (to enhance healthy longevity of dogs by understanding and targeting the molecular mechanisms of ageing).

Citizen Science or ‘crowd science’ is a form of scientific study in which members of the public volunteer to collaborate with professional scientists to improve knowledge and understanding. Large networks of volunteer citizen scientists enable researchers to conduct studies that would be too expensive or time consuming to achieve through other means. Citizen science has been made possible by the internet and has the potential to help gain new insights into many important subjects, especially in relation to us and the way we live.

Citizen Dog Science allows dog owners to contribute to ground-breaking, fascinating studies into dog health and behaviour. This kind of collaboration allows scientists to collect huge amounts of data from a large and widespread population of dog owners. This is especially important in trying to understand differences between breeds in terms of behaviour, health and lifestyle. There is no animal species on Earth that is more physically diverse. Dogs come in all shapes and sizes from the tiny Chihuahua to the giant Great Dane; so different in so many ways, yet they are all one species.

Citizen Dog Science projects reach around the world. Sometimes they are conducted entirely online, others ask participants to go out into the world, do something and report back. Some projects ask for volunteers to bring their dogs in for study trials within a University or other scientific institution. Projects may involve a number of different activities, from filming your dog during training or play sessions, to completing online surveys about specific aspects of the way dogs live, what they do and how they interact with other animals and, of course, with us. And, it’s not just about behaviour. Citizen Dog Science projects are conducted to study dog behaviour, canine health and, more broadly, dog welfare.

To find out more about Citizen Dog Science and how you and your dog can participate, visit their site here.

(Source: Citizen Dog Science )

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