Tiffani Howell

Tiffani Howell
La Trobe University · School of Psychological Science

BA, MA, PhD

About

77
Publications
38,939
Reads
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848
Citations
Introduction
I recently completed my PhD in domestic dog cognition at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. I hold a MA in International Studies from Newcastle University, England, and a BA in French with minors in International Studies and Political Science from NC State University in the US
Additional affiliations
February 2014 - present
La Trobe University
Position
  • Research Associate
January 2011 - December 2012
Monash University (Australia)
Education
February 2009 - May 2013
Monash University (Australia)
Field of study
  • Anthrozoology

Publications

Publications (77)
Article
Background: Available empirical evidence suggests that pet animals do not always experience an optimal welfare state. However, most pet welfare research has focused on dogs and cats, with less research investigating amphibians and reptiles. The aim of this study was to characterise how owners of pet frogs and turtles in Victoria, Australia, attemp...
Article
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Citation: Howell, T.J.; Nieforth, L.; Thomas-Pino, C.; Samet, L.; Agbonika, S.; Cuevas-Pavincich, F.; Fry, N.E.; Hill, K.; Jegatheesan, B.; Kakinuma, M.; et al. Defining Terms
Article
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Restrictions, social isolation, and uncertainty related to the global COVID-19 pandemic have disrupted the ways that parents and children maintain family routines, health, and wellbeing. Companion animals (pets) can be a critical source of comfort during traumatic experiences, although changes to family routines, such as those caused by COVID-19, c...
Conference Paper
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Animal-assisted services are evolving rapidly, with animals working in a variety of roles to support vulnerable people. However, the terms used to describe these animals can be confusing. Different terms may be referring to the same role, or different roles might be referred to using the same term. Since animals working in certain roles are afforde...
Article
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Introduction: The benefits of completing household chores appear to transfer beyond managing day-to-day living. It is possible that chore engagement may improve executive functions, as engagement in chores require individuals to plan, self-regulate, switch between tasks, and remember instructions. To date, little research has been conducted on hou...
Article
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Executive functions (EFs) are cognitive processes that are used to effortfully self-regulate behaviour and might be important for dogs’ success in working and pet roles. Currently, studies are assessing dogs’ EF skills through often laborious cognitive measures, leading to small sample sizes and lacking measures of reliability. A complementary meth...
Article
Companion animals (pets), especially cats and dogs, have featured regularly in the media and public discourse during the global COVID-19 pandemic, including increased demand for pet adoption and more time spent with existing pets. This qualitative study aimed to describe the experiences of Australian parents with a child under 18 years and a cat or...
Article
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The Cat/Dog–Owner Relationship Scale (C/DORS) can be administered to both dog and cat owners. However, the scale as a whole has never been validated on a sample of dog owners. Furthermore, it has never been translated into Italian. The aim of this study was to translate the C/DORS into Italian, modify its response scale in order to improve the degr...
Article
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Executive functions (EFs) are a set of cognitive processes used for effortful self-regulation of behaviour. They include inhibition, working memory, cognitive flexibility and, in some models, attention. In humans, socioeconomic factors and life experiences shape development of EFs. Domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) must often regulate their behaviou...
Article
Dog guides (Canis familiaris) fulfil important roles for their handlers. However, the process of training working dogs is costly, and many dogs fail training due to behavioural issues. Recently, research has shown that cognitive traits are important for success as working dogs, and that these might develop early in young puppies. Working memory and...
Article
Giving evidence in court can be stressful, especially for children. Since increased anxiety is associated with an increased likelihood of unreliable testimony among children, reducing anxiety in this context is important to improve the quality of evidence. Dogs have been used in legal settings, such as courtrooms, to provide comfort for vulnerable...
Article
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Snakes are sentient animals and should be subject to the accepted general welfare principles of other species. However, they are also the only vertebrates commonly housed in conditions that prevent them from adopting rectilinear behavior (ability to fully stretch out). To assess the evidence bases for historical and current guidance on snake spatia...
Article
Full-text available
Snakes are sentient animals and should be subject to the accepted general welfare principles of other species. However, they are also the only vertebrates commonly housed in conditions that prevent them from adopting rectilinear behavior (ability to fully stretch out). To assess the evidence bases for historical and current guidance on snake spatia...
Article
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Many assistance dog providers use volunteer raisers to manage each puppy’s learning and daily experiences, which partly determines the puppy’s behavioural development. Therefore, it is important that raisers engage in recommended practices. Three common recommendations from the literature include frequent socialisation and consistent training for t...
Article
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Conservation detection dogs (CDDs) are trained to locate biological material from plants and animals of interest to conservation efforts and are often more effective and economical than other detection methods. However, the financial costs of developing and appropriately caring for CDDs can nonetheless prohibit their use, particularly by smaller co...
Article
Conservation Detection Dogs (CDDs) are trained to locate biological material from plants and animals relevant to conservation efforts. CDDs can be more effective and more economical than other survey methods, yet financial costs associated with training and maintaining CDDs, while meeting their welfare needs, can prohibit their use. It takes a grea...
Article
Problem behaviours are the most common reason to reject young dogs from entering advanced training and obtaining certification for work as an assistance dog. Therefore, working towards preventing undesirable behaviours should be prioritised to reduce failure rates. The development of problem behaviours in puppies, such as those associated with fear...
Article
Puppies are often purpose-bred and carefully selected to be future assistance dog candidates. Early experiences during their stay with volunteer puppy raisers help shape their behaviour as young adults, which is an important determinant of whether they are selected for further training. Exactly how puppy raisers practices contribute to puppy behavi...
Article
• Professionally trained conservation detection dogs (CDDs) are taught to locate biological targets, including cryptic and low‐density plant and animal species, but have been largely underused in acknow • detecting endangered invertebrates. • This pilot study assessed the ability of four volunteer CDD/handler teams to detect the endangered Alpine s...
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The authors wish to make the following corrections [1]:In Table 1, under case study 4, the code was originally labeled as H8, P8 and ADI 8; these labels should be H4, P4 and ADI 4, respectively [...]
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Pet–owner co-sleeping is increasingly common in some parts of the world. Adult owners often subjectively report benefits of co-sleeping with pets, although objective actigraphy reports conversely indicate sleep disruptions due to the pet. Because limited research is available regarding pet–owner co-sleeping in non-adult samples, the aim of this two...
Article
Domestic dogs play many vital roles in human lives; however, relatively little is known about how they perceive the world visually. Given dogs’ recent popularity as a subject in cognitive and behavioural studies, it is important to understand how they visually interpret the world around them. One way to evaluate perception is to assess illusion sus...
Article
Greyhounds retired from the racing industry, or who are deemed unsuitable for racing, can make good companion animals. However, some greyhounds have a strong predilection towards predatory behaviour (PB), a motor pattern associated with the catching and consuming of prey. This tendency can negatively impact whether the dog is deemed suitable for ad...
Article
Background A large number of snakes are kept as pets in Western societies. Few studies have been undertaken to assess keeping practices of snakes by private owners in Australia. Therefore, there is concern that some owners may not understand even basic husbandry requirements. The aim of this preliminary study was to identify the most common practic...
Article
Purpose: First-time assistance dog handlers experience a profound life change when they bring an assistance dog into their home. Therefore, this article investigates the broad context of handlers’ lived experiences prior to and throughout the first year after acquiring an assistance dog. Materials and methods: To understand holistic experiences bet...
Article
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Assistance dog puppies live with their raisers for up to 16 months before entering advanced training and, hopefully, becoming qualified to help people with a disability. Almost half of the puppies fail to meet the behavioural standards required for assistance dogs, and some puppy raisers produce more behaviourally favourable puppies than others. It...
Article
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Responsible cat ownership is important for keeping pet cats and wildlife safe. Much research investigating levels of compliance with and attitudes towards responsible cat ownership practices has focused on cat owners. Non-owner attitudes are relevant because their opinions may encourage cat-owning friends and family to engage (or not) in a cat mana...
Article
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One way to better understand how animals visually perceive their environment is to assess the way in which visual information is interpreted and adapted based on preconceptions. Domestic dogs represent a unique species in which to evaluate visual perception as recent findings suggest they may differ from humans and other animal species in terms of...
Conference Paper
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Most puppies being raised as potential assistance dogs spend their time living and learning with a volunteer raiser during their first year of life, a critical period for their physical and psychological development. After this puppy raising stage, up to half of all assistance dog puppies fail to graduate to work in an assistance role. Many factors...
Article
Connection with a zoo animal may increase conservation‐mindedness in zoo visitors, potentially resulting in conservation‐oriented behavior change. No research has attempted to establish what this “connection” actually means. Visitors (N = 85) to Melbourne Zoo were asked to name the animal with which they most connected, the extent to which they con...
Article
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In many countries where companion dogs are popular, owners are strongly encouraged to neuter their dogs. Consequently, millions of dogs are neutered each year. In recent times considerable attention has been paid to the possible effects of such procedures on canine health and welfare. Less scrutinized are the potential ramifications of widespread n...
Article
Purpose: As the popularity of using dogs to assist individuals with disability grows, there is a need for increased understanding of assistance dog handlers’ experiences of living and working with their dog. This is particularly pertinent to first-time handlers and during the initial placement period, where the handler and assistance dog, and the r...
Article
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The purpose of this study was to explore first time handlers’ experiences when working with an assistance dog (AD). Interviewees included seven first time AD handlers and 14 other individuals close to these handlers, including family members, carers and AD instructors. Semi-structured interviews were conducted six months and one year after each han...
Article
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Due to the composition of the cone photoreceptors in the retina of dogs, it has been proposed they might demonstrate human-like red/green colour blindness. However, some assessments have shown that dogs may still be able to distinguish between red and green. This suggests that dogs may be differentiating between the two colours on the basis of thei...
Article
Purpose: Companion dogs can provide psychosocial benefits for their owners. Assistance dogs reportedly provide similar benefits, while also performing specific tasks. These psychosocial benefits may increase their handler’s quality of life and ability to thrive – defined as having the ability to grow and flourish, especially in the face of adversit...
Article
Furnished cage housing for laying hens has been introduced in some countries as a ‘welfare friendly’ alternative to conventional cage systems. Whether this housing system would be acceptable to the public remains unknown. This pilot study aimed to engage the public through online discussions in order to investigate their knowledge, support and perc...
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Background Research has shown Australian group homes, and supported living options, fail to support people with intellectual disabilities to develop social connections. This pilot study evaluates the effectiveness of a visiting dog walking program to facilitate encounters with other community members. Method Sixteen adults with intellectual disabi...
Article
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One way to uncover visual capabilities in animals is to assess perception of geometric illusions. Recently, we found that dogs did not demonstrate susceptibility to the Ponzo illusion when it was presented in a variety of contexts, a unique result as all other published reports of nonhuman animal species tested on the illusion have demonstrated hum...
Article
Welfare considerations surrounding dog (Canis familiaris) breeding practices are contentious in some sectors of the community. However, public perceptions surrounding dog breeding practices are poorly understood. The aims of this study were to describe perceptions of dog breeding and associated welfare concerns held by members of the general public...
Article
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Assistance dogs are a very diverse group of working dogs that are trained to assist humans with different types of disabilities in their daily lives. Despite these dogs' value for humankind, research on their welfare status, cognitive and behavioural capacities, selection criteria for the best fitting individuals, effective training and management...
Conference Paper
Background: This pilot study provided support to adults with intellectual disabilities to regularly walk a dog in their community, and evaluated the effectiveness to facilitate encounters with other community members. Method: A matched pairs design was used. Eight participants in Group 1 had 14, one hour outings with a handler and their dog, whils...
Article
Previous research showed that behavior problems are a major reason for relinquishing adopted dogs to animal shelters, and it is possible that undesirable behaviors also affect the success of adoptions of retired racing greyhounds. The present study aimed to measure behaviors of ex-racing greyhounds adopted through the Greyhound Adoption Center Ital...
Article
Clicker training is a training technique whereby a signal (e.g. the ‘click’ of a clicker) is emitted by the trainer immediately after an animal offers a desirable behavior, following which a reward is delivered. Beyond improvements in training time, dog owners report that clicker training can make training more fun and strengthen the relationship b...
Article
People with vision impairments face physical, psychological, and social challenges, potentially preventing them from thriving–defined as growing and flourishing especially in the face of adversity. Guide dogs relieve some of these challenges for vision-impaired adults. However, due to concerns regarding an adolescent's ability to manage a guide dog...
Chapter
Animals have been used for centuries in scientific studies. These have resulted in many benefits to humans and other animals, such as blood pressure medications and the flu vaccine for humans, and hip replacement surgeries and vaccines against painful, debilitating illnesses for animals. The advantages of laboratory animal research are a very high...
Article
Full-text available
Over the last 20 years, a large amount of research has been conducted in an attempt to uncover the cognitive abilities of the domestic dog. While substantial advancements have been made, progress has been impeded by the fact that little is known about how dogs visually perceive their external environment. It is imperative that future research deter...
Article
Full-text available
While domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) play a large role in human daily lives, little is known about how they perceive the visual world. Recent research suggests that dogs may perceive certain visual illusions differently than humans. To further evaluate geometric illusion susceptibility, eight dogs were assessed on their susceptibility to the Ponz...
Article
Full-text available
One central issue in the study of animal cognition concerns conceptual behaviour, where an organism categorises objects, events, and relationships so as to transfer previously learned rules to novel contexts. In this study, we investigated whether or not dogs demonstrate conceptual behaviour in the form of simple relational class concept learning....
Article
Clicker training is an animal training technique derived from mechanized laboratory-based studies of animal learning. However, clicker training in the real world often takes place with a human trainer in an environment that is not as well controlled as a laboratory. Attempts to empirically evaluate applied clicker training techniques using testing...
Article
Owner practices affect pet welfare, and little is known about the ways in which reptile owners attempt to meet their pet’s welfare needs. We asked 316 pet lizard owners in Victoria, Australia, for information on the ways in which they seek to meet their pet’s environmental, dietary, behavioral, social, and health needs. Items were generated based o...
Article
Full-text available
Susceptibility to geometrical visual illusions has been tested in a number of non-human animal species, providing important information about how these species perceive their environment. Considering their active role in human lives, visual illusion susceptibility was tested in domestic dogs (Canis familiaris). Using a two-choice simultaneous discr...
Article
Characteristics of the human-animal bond can be influenced by both owner-related and pet-related factors, which likely differ between species. Three studies adapted the Monash Dog-Owner Relationship Scale (MDORS) to permit assessment of human-cat interactions as perceived by the cat’s owner. In Study 1,293 female cat owners completed a modified ver...
Article
Full-text available
Clicker training refers to an animal training technique, derived from laboratory-based studies of animal learning and behaviour, in which a reward-predicting signal is delivered immediately following performance of a desired behaviour, and is subsequently followed by a reward. While clicker training is popular amongst dog training practitioners, sc...
Article
Understanding individual behavioral differences in domestic cats could lead to improved selection when potential cat owners choose a pet with whom to share their lives, along with consequent improvements in cat welfare. Yet very few attempts have been made to elicit cat personality dimensions using the trait-based exploratory approaches applied pre...
Article
Full-text available
Dogs are widely used for scent detection work, assisting in searches for, among other things, missing persons, explosives, and even cancers. They are also increasingly used in conservation settings, being deployed for a range of diverse purposes. Although scent detecting dogs have been used in conservation roles for over 100 years, it is only recen...
Article
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Evidence suggests that there is variation in support for specific chicken farming practices amongst stakeholder groups, and this should be explored in more detail to understand the nature of these differences and work towards convergence. Online focus groups were used to assess attitudes to animal welfare in meat chicken farming in this pilot study...
Article
Full-text available
In humans, geometrical illusions are thought to reflect mechanisms that are usually helpful for seeing the world in a predictable manner. These mechanisms deceive us given the right set of circumstances, correcting visual input where a correction is not necessary. Investigations of non-human animals’ susceptibility to geometrical illusions have yie...
Article
It is often assumed that pet dogs experience better welfare than livestock production animals because many owners consider them to be members of the family and, collectively, spend billions of dollars on them annually. However, this assumption is not based on scientific evidence, and a scientifically validated tool for assessing the welfare of comp...
Article
The modern domestic dog's primary function is as a human companion. A strong human–dog relationship may be beneficial to both parties but not all relationships are successful. There is currently no consensus on why some dog–owner relationships flourish and others fail, but relationship quality may be partly influenced by canine characteristics. The...
Article
Although cats are commonly kept as pets, the extent to which they experience optimal welfare is not well researched. Owner management practices are likely to affect the welfare outcomes of pet cats. The aim of this study was to determine different ways in which pet cat owners attempt to meet their cat's environmental, diet and exercise, behavioral,...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The Review & Assessment of Best Practice Rearing, Socialisation, Education and Training Methods for Greyhounds in a Racing Context was commissioned by Greyhound Racing New South Wales and undertaken by Working Dog Alliance Australia. The review found that there were improvements needed in the areas of participant education as well as rearing and tr...
Article
The most common role of a domestic dog in the developed world currently is that of companion. Puppy socialization practices play a large role in the development of well-adjusted adult dogs that display few undesirable behaviors, and which can establish a positive, lifelong relationship with their owner. Age-appropriate socialization practices shoul...
Article
Although companion animal management practices used by caregivers can influence the welfare of the companion animals, there is little existing information about the ways in which people attempt to meet their companion animals' needs. A representative sample of rabbit guardians (n = 93, representing 63,000 people) and bird guardians (n = 203, repres...
Article
Dog (Canis familiaris) cognition research that examines whether dogs are able to use a mirror as a problem-solving tool is rare. The aim of this study was to explore whether dogs could find food that was visible only via a mirror at the beginning of the experiment. In a laboratory setting, we exposed 44 dogs to a large mirror, attached at a 90