In Australia, the greyhound racing industry has recently been rocked by scandals, including mass greyhound graves, the use of live animals as bait in training, and socially unacceptable euthanasia rates after the racing career ends. The industry is in the process of reforming, and Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV), the industry body in the Australian state of Victoria, aims to rehome as many retired racing greyhounds as pets as possible, once the career ends. In some cases, an obstacle in achieving this goal is the expression of predatory behaviour in the greyhound. Therefore, GRV contracted researchers at La Trobe University to review the existing scientific literature about predatory behaviour in dogs, to determine what drives the behaviour and whether it can be stopped.
As part of the review, we surveyed experts around the world with experience in dog behaviour, and we conducted follow-up interviews with 12 of these experts to establish a deeper understanding of some of the issues surrounding predatory behaviour in dogs. This presentation will discuss the findings, including an explanation of the behavioural sequence and how it differs between breeds. In particular, greyhounds have been bred such that there are few behavioural indicators of the intention to give chase, thus making it difficult to prevent the chase behaviour. The neurological underpinnings of predatory behaviour will also be described, as well as the current scientific research aimed at understanding whether it can be effectively stopped long-term. Finally, the opinions of experts, based on the results of the survey and the interviews, will be compared with the existing scientific and neurological evidence. Recommendations for best practice in stopping predatory behaviour in dogs will be provided.
- Description of predatory behaviour in dogs, including the behaviour sequence itself, breed differences in its expression, and possible factors underlying its expression
- Neurological underpinnings of predatory behaviour, based on research with rodents
- Most effective ways to stop expression of predatory behaviour according to scientific research
- Most effective ways to stop expression of predatory behaviour according to expert practitioners
About The Presenter
Dr Tiffani Howell is a research fellow in the School of Psychology and Public Health at La Trobe University in Australia. She is part of the Anthrozoology Research Group and the DogLab at La Trobe University. She has extensive experience in research on animal welfare, dog-owner relationships, and dog behaviour, including surveys, focus groups, and behavioural studies. Since she completed her PhD at Monash University in 2013. She has published 19 peer-reviewed journal articles, and has written six commissioned government reports and two industry reports.
Recent projects include a review of assistance dog effectiveness for the Australian government, and pet management practices by owners of various animal types (dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, reptiles, amphibians, rodents, and ferrets). She has also participated in a review of greyhounds socialisation and training practices for Greyhound Racing New South Wales as part of the Working Dog Alliance. The project she will present in this webinar was funded by Greyhound Racing Victoria.