My research interests centre on the behaviour and welfare of domestic cats and dogs, and their relationships with people. Before I retired I co-ordinated research programmes on the following: separation disorders in dogs; the welfare of kennelled dogs; the role of olfaction in dogs' location of hidden objects; the psychology of dog-handler interactions; the interpretation of "play" behaviour in dogs and cats; cat domestication; the development of "personality" in cats; the effects of human factors on cat population dynamics.
My current professional focus is on making anthrozoology (the science of human-animal interactions) accessible to pet owners, through books and other media.
I was formerly Reader in Companion Animal Behaviour and University Research Theme Leader for Animal Welfare & Behaviour at the University of Bristol. My academic post prior to that was a Senior Research Fellowship at the University of Southampton (1987-2003), where I founded the Anthrozoology Institute. Honours received include the RSPCA/BSAS Award for Innovative Developments in Animal Welfare (2014) and the BVA Wooldridge Medal (2015).
I was one of the founders of the International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ), and formerly acted as Science Chair for the International Association of Human-Animal Interactions Organisations (IAHAIO). I have been a member of the Council of the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB) and served on its Accreditation Committee from 1999-2015.