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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Animals in Our Midst: how did pet-keeping evolve?  Event

Dr John Bradshaw with animals
18:00 - 20:00
6 October 2017
University of Southampton Highfield Campus Shackleton Building 44, Lecture Theatre 1041 Southampton, England SO17 1BJ

Event details

Today, roughly two-thirds of households include some kind of pet. This habit is no modern affectation, since our hunter-gatherer ancestors seem to have routinely adopted young animals from the wild and raised them alongside their own children. Thus pet-keeping seems to be a part of human nature, but it’s less clear why we did it then, and continue to enjoy doing so today. Is pet-keeping just a mistake, the relatively harmless misdirection of care that should by rights be reserved for our own offspring, or is it an evolved trait that gave our ancestors a crucial advantage at the dawn of agriculture?

Dr John Bradshaw is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow and formerly a Reader in Companion Animal Behaviour at the University of Bristol. He is also the author of the Sunday Times best-sellers In Defence of Dogs and Cat Sense.

Dr Bradshaw's main interests are in the behaviour and welfare of domestic cats and dogs, and their relationships with people; he has published over 100 research papers and book chapters on these topics. Honours received include the RSPCA/BSAS Award for Innovative Developments in Animal Welfare (2014) and the BVA Wooldridge Medal (2015).

Since 2009 he has focused his attention on the dissemination of animal welfare science to pet owners: his books Dog Sense/In Defence of Dogs and Cat Sense (Basic Books/Penguin) were non-fiction bestsellers in both the USA and UK, and have been translated into more than a dozen other languages. His book on pet-keeping The Animals Among Us will be published by Penguin in September 2017. His television appearances have included six episodes of “Horizon” for BBC2, ITV’s “The Story of Cats”, NBC’s “Pets: Their Secret Lives”, ZTL’s “Geschichte der Tiere: Die Katze”, CBC’s “The Lion in Your Living Room” and “Dogs: Their Secret Lives” for Channel 4.

Speaker information

Dr John Bradshaw,University of Bristol,My research interests centre on the behaviour and welfare of domestic cats and dogs, and their relationships with people, although I no longer supervise research students. Before I retired I co-ordinated research programmes on the following: separation disorders in dogs; the welfare of kennelled dogs; the role of olfaction in dogs' location of hidden objects; the psychology of dog-handler interactions; the interpretation of "play" behaviour in dogs and cats; cat domestication; the development of "personality" in cats; the effects of human factors on cat population dynamics.

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