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Clever Canine Lab: PhD in Dog Cognition

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Applications are invited for a 3-year PhD studentship, based in the School of Psychology at the University of Auckland, to begin in 2020/2021. The students will be supervised by Dr Alex Taylor.

The University of Auckland’s Clever Canine Lab ( was established in 2017. Its primary objective is to explore dogs’ sophisticated social cognition abilities. Our work involves liaising with dog owners in the wider Auckland community who volunteer their pet dogs to take part in our research. Owners and dogs are invited to attend sessions together, as most experiments involve both owner and dog participation.
This work has wide ranging implications for our understanding of how intelligence evolves and how processes such as domestication may affect it. We are particularly interested in the cognition underlying the social bond dogs have with their owners. We believe that a better understanding of this bond will have an impact on dog welfare and in training.
PhD students will be encouraged to develop their own interests within canine cognition and conduct their research according to these interests.

Your qualifications: Selection will be made on a competitive basis using the following criteria:
• a strong academic background in either biology or psychology;
• demonstrated experience with experimental research methods and statistical analysis involving either human or animal participants, particularly with EEG recording.

Your responsibilities:
• conceiving, designing, and implementing novel experimental approaches to studying canine cognition;
• recruiting study participants, conducting experimental testing, and training volunteers on experimental procedures;
• managing, archiving, and handling experimental data, as well as preparing it for publication;
• ensuring compliance with all relevant ethics regulations.

Your competencies:
• strong organisational and communication (spoken and written) skills;
• interpersonal and intercultural skills, and an ability to work as part of a research team;
• a working understanding of elementary dog behaviour and training;
• preference will be given to applicants who have advanced experience in designing and conducting well-controlled experiments on behaviour or cognition and/or who have experience in EEG.

Host institution: The School of Psychology at the University of Auckland is ranked 28th in the world. Auckland is ranked third out of 231 world cities for quality of living in the 2018 Mercer Quality of Living Survey (see
Your application: Please submit a letter of interest detailing how you meet each of the qualifications, curriculum vitae (indicating GPA/previous academic performance indicators, publication history, and prior experience), and contact information for three references to Dr. Alex Taylor ().

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