Refining Dog Care website launches

University of Stirling researchers aim to improve welfare of dogs with launch of new website


Researchers from the University of Stirling, Scotland, have today released a website which aims to improve the welfare of laboratory-housed dogs. The website, Refining Dog Care, is designed for a global audience of both scientific professionals and members of the public, providing information on dog use in scientific research, information on improving their welfare and practical resources for use in animal facilities. The website has been developed by animal welfare researchers Dr Laura Hall and Professor Hannah Buchanan-Smith as part of a project funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to engage with industry for the purposes of improving laboratory-housed dog welfare, while raising public awareness of the use of dogs in research and the overarching principles of the 3Rs.RDC Home pageRDC Home pageIn the UK, most dogs are used for regulatory safety studies for medicines which will be used in human patients, and that improving animal welfare can result in better quality scientific data with with simple, practical changes in such as introducing positive reinforcement training. The principles of humane research are the 3Rs: Replacement, Reduction and Refinement. Refinement refers to methods which improve welfare or minimise harms associated with use in scientific research, and it is this principle which is promoted by the Refining Dog Care project.

Dr Hall said: “Over 3500 dogs are used in research and testing in the UK every year, and over 100,000 globally, and yet there are few sources of information on effective Refinements specifically for laboratory-housed dogs. The Refining Dog Care website is part of an on-going collaboration with UK industry which allows us to draw upon the experience of scientific and technical staff, while working together to develop new ways of improving welfare which also have the potential to improve scientific data.” The website is the first of it’s kind to bring together information on laboratory-housed dogs from existing published research, industry expertise and research carried out by the project’s developers. It presents research-based resources such as tools for monitoring welfare, and photo and video guides outlining practical elements such as training.

Members of the public can also use the website to learn about the use of dogs in scientific research, including the purposes of research using dogs, methods of measuring and improving dog welfare and the benefits of providing Refinements such as positive reinforcement training and environmental enrichment.

Notes to Editors
Contact information

Any requests for information about the Refining Dog Care project or website should be directed to Dr Laura Hall at

Behaviour and Evolution Research Group, Psychology, University of Stirling
The Behaviour and Evolution Research group (BERG) is one of the research groups in the Psychology Division at the University of Stirling. The members of BERG conduct research into communication and cognition in humans, and animal behaviour, cognition and welfare, and publish high quality research which benefits a range of captive animals, including those housed in zoos and laboratories.
University of Stirling
Founded by Royal Charter in 1967, the University of Stirling was the first new university in Scotland for over 400 years.  The University of Stirling was ranked 61st in the world, 9th in the UK and 1st in Scotland in the 2013 Times Higher Education 100 under 50 table (which ranks the world’s best 100 universities under 50 years old). Designated Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence by the government in 2008, the University is internationally recognised for innovative research and teaching in sport, and for success in developing sporting talent and improving athlete performance.  All students benefit from a range of facilities that include a 50-metre swimming pool, a 9-hole par 3 golf course, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, fitness and conditioning centres, 400m athletics track and numerous cross-country running trails. The University campus is located on the edge of Stirling City in 330 acres of stunning countryside. Stirling is one of the UK’s leading research universities in the fields of aquaculture, children and young people, health and wellbeing, the environment and people, culture and society, enterprise and the economy, and sport. Stirling is a City geographically at the centre of Scotland with superb links to the rest of the UK and beyond.  It takes just 45 minutes from Glasgow and Edinburgh by road or rail.  Edinburgh, the capital city, is home to the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh Castle and two of the largest cultural festivals whilst Glasgow is home to some of the most beautiful architecture in Europe.  Stirling is the ancient capital of Scotland and has many tourist attractions of cultural and historical significance including Stirling Castle, the National Wallace Monument and nearby the Trossachs National Park. For more information, please visit


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