Petra Edwards

Petra Edwards

Higher Degree by Research Candidate

School of Animal and Veterinary Science

Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology

I am an animal behaviour scientist investigating companion animal behaviour, training, welfare and human-animal interactions.

My PhD focuses on how dogs experience their veterinary visits and investigating strategies that may reduce stress during veterinary care. My Honours research explored the different types of equipment pet owners use on their dogs in Australia.

I am an animal behaviour scientist investigating companion animal behaviour, training, welfare and human-animal interactions. 

My PhD research focuses on how dogs experience their veterinary visits. Regular veterinary checks and care is integral to good dog welfare, but lots of dogs become really stressed or fearful of the vet. This is an issue because it makes accurate diagnoses very challenging, as the symptoms from fear and stress can often look similar to those of pain or illness. Fearful dogs also pose a bigger risk of injury to the veterinary staff or themselves, and parents of pets that hate the vet are less likely to take them regularly. There are lots of aspects of a dog's veterinary visit that might impact their experience - their perception of the sights, sounds, smells, the other patients or interactions with the staff, what their parent does, how much pain they might be in already, or what happened last time they attended. All these factors might impact their experience in the current visit. The other aspect of reducing fear at the vet is the ability for the veterinary staff to implement these strategies in clinical practice, and some of my research encompasses the barriers to implementation and attitudes to fear-free practice.

  • Journals

    Year Citation
    2022 Edwards, P. T., Smith, B. P., McArthur, M. L., & Hazel, S. J. (2022). At the heart of a dog's veterinary experience: Heart rate responses in dogs vary across a standard physical examination. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 51, 23-34.
    2019 Edwards, P. T., Smith, B., McArthur, M., & Hazel, S. (2019). Fearful Fido: Investigating dog experience in the veterinary context in an effort to reduce distress. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 213, 14-25.
    DOI Scopus12 WoS9
    2019 Edwards, P. T., Hazel, S. J., Browne, M., Serpell, J. A., McArthur, M. L., & Smith, B. P. (2019). Investigating risk factors that predict a dog’s fear during veterinary consultations. PLoS ONE, 14(7), 18 pages.
    DOI Scopus12 WoS11 Europe PMC5

Tutoring and demonstrating into the BSc. Animal Behaviour and Science degrees for courses: Principles in Animal Behaviour, Welfare and Ethics, Animal Management, Applied Animal Behaviour Analysis, Advanced Applications in Animal Behaviour.

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