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Working Dog Alliance Australia » Characterising ‘Dogmanship’

Characterising ‘Dogmanship’

Despite a wealth of free information on dog behaviour and training, there is little information regarding the behaviour and personalities of those who train these dogs. The information seems to assume that every dog owner has the same skills and attributes as one another. This overlooks the reality that certain individuals are recognised as ‘dog people’ probably due to their proficiency at training and interpreting the body language of the dogs under their care. To our knowledge, no objective data exist on what makes these individuals so skilled.

Despite the existence of outstanding trainers, there is still no guarantee of good results in practice. Therefore, a knowledge gap exists of what defines the great ‘dogmanship’ of expert practitioners and how best to translate it into actions for the average owner. What is required is the identification of human behaviours and attributes which function in effective dog-human communication and contribute to an outstanding human-animal relationship.

This project seeks to identify the human attributes that best motivate dogs within, as well as beyond training, and how this might contribute to the human-animal relationship. Ideally, this would allow for optimal matching of handlers and dogs to maximise the quality of the human-dog bond and performance.


To characterise the training techniques and behavioural attributes of successful animal trainers.
To characterise the behaviour and personality profiles of successful and less successful dog handlers.
To examine the dog-human bond in a variety of contexts and its contribution to human satisfaction and animal wellbeing.

Researcher: Elyssa Payne | Paul McGreevy

Contact: epay1031@uni.sydney.edu.au

Institution: The University of Sydney