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It started when two canine scientists decide to become pen pals in an era of digital media...


16 September 2012

AAWS-struck: effecting change in animal welfare

Absolutely loving the Real Gosling tumblr - this made my week!
Hey Julie!
Yes, I swear I'm not ignoring you or your questions and I will get back to you about all the juicy things you raised in your last post. But now I'm home from Canberra, I really need to tell you about the AAWS National Workshop while it's all fresh.

As I mentioned in my previous AAWS postI’ve been part of the AAWS ‘working dog working group sub-group’ since 2007. At this year’s workshop I presented about the two working dog welfare research projects that AAWS have funded over the past few years. 

read the report here
The first-ever Australian Working Dog Survey in 2009 (you can read the full report here) and the follow up Australian Working Dog Industry Action Plan that was submitted to government mid-year (and as of Friday, I’m happy to report it’s also available online: the summary and full report are available here). 

The ‘Survey’ was the first of its kind in the world and gathered benchmarking data about the sourcing, breeding, raising, assessment, training, trainer education, housing, health care and end points of 4,195 of Australia's working dogs. As you know, it's a really diverse industry including dogs from private (e.g. farm), government (e.g. military & police), assistance/service (e.g. guide/seing eye) and sporting (e.g. racing greyhounds) sectors.
Access the full Plan here

These preliminary findings were then extended in the ‘Action Plan’ to provide a three year strategic plan that will aid to unite and engage the various Australian Working Dog Industry sectors to advance the welfare and productivity of Australia’s iconic working dogs. 

I've been very fortunate to collaborate with Dr Nick Branson and Professor Paul McGreevy on these two research projects and it was really fun to share the project outcomes with the extended AAWS stakeholder group. It was a great feeling to receive lots of positive feedback and interest in the projects. 

There were lots of great questions and even expressions of interests from other animal sector groups (cows! horses!) wanting to learn more about the process to be able to apply a similar approach to help break down their big picture goals into achievable targets and strategies.

Working at the interface between research and industry has lots of challenges, but I have always enjoyed problem solving. I feel that these kind of initiatives make the best use of my background and also feeds that passion of working 'like a dog' to make a difference. And I like that - a lot.

So getting back to our Real Gosling buddy up there - you like my slides, huh?
Well OK - you might as well see them all and hear my talk then!

You still need to tell me about those pink pads Julie - I haven't forgotten them! 



1. N. Branson, M. Cobb, P. McGreevy (2010). The Australian Working Dog Survey Report 2009. Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. 

2. N. Branson, M. Cobb, P. McGreevy (2012). The Australian Working Dog Industry Action Plan 2012. Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. 

If you'd like to know more about the work of Nick and Paul, here are a few (randomly) selected articles of theirs to check out:
Branson, N.J. & Rogers, L.J. (2006). Relationship between paw preference strength and noise phobia in Canis familiaris., Journal of Comparative Psychology, 120 (3) 183. DOI: 10.1037/0735-7036.120.3.176

McGreevy, P. D. (2007) Breeding for quality of life. Animal Welfare, 16 (1) 125.

McGreevy, P.D., Starling, M., Branson, N.J., Cobb, M.L. & Calnon, D. (2012). An overview of the dog–human dyad and ethograms within it, Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 7 (2) 117. DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2011.06.001

© Mia Cobb 2012
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