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Canine Clinic Connections: Investigating Dog-Human Dynamics in Veterinary Settings

Would your dog like to play fun cognitive games and eat lots of yummy treats in the interest of science? The Thinking Pets Program is looking for participants for a new research study exploring dog and human factors that may influence dog behavior in the veterinary clinic.


There are many potential factors that may influence a dog’s experience at the veterinary clinic. NC State University College of Veterinary Medicine Thinking Pets Program is now enrolling dogs and their owners for a new research study exploring dog and human factors that may influence dog behavior in the veterinary clinic. We hope to use what we learn to improve veterinary care for our four legged friends!

Owners who choose to participate with their dog will bring their dog for a single day study visit to the NC State Veterinary Hospital. Dogs can be dropped off to spend a day at the university with our research team. Throughout the day, dogs will participate in multiple learning games (all involving yummy treats, of course!). At pick up, owners will be asked to fill out questionnaires and participate in a short, interactive behavior test with their dog.


We are enrolling two different populations of dogs and their owners to participate in this study. Your dog may be eligible if your dog is healthy and free from pain OR if your dog is scheduled for TPLO surgery with the NC State Orthopedic Surgery Service. All dogs must be at least two years old to participate. Owners must be at least 18 years old, and willing to bring their dog in for a single day visit to the NC State Veterinary Hospital.

**We have received an overwhelming amount of interest from owners with dogs who are healthy and pain free so we have temporarily closed our enrollment survey for this population!**

Study Benefits

  • FREE physical exam
  • FREE orthopedic exam
  • FREE neurological exam
  • FREE dog toy
  • A puppy report card to take home detailing their day at the university!
  • BONUS: If your dog is scheduled to receive TPLO surgery and participates in this study, your postsurgical (8 week re-check) radiographs and sedation fees will be covered by the study!

Participation Includes:

For this task, we will shave an approximately 1″ by 1″ inch patch of hair on your dog’s back leg where we will apply our thermal probe. As soon as your pup responds to the stimulus, the encounter is stopped and we move on to the next test. We are recording how long your dog tolerates the stimulus with cut-off’s in place (in case your dog tries to display a super-dog tolerance!). These procedures are performed in the same manner as they are in people.

In this task, we’ll find out if your dog makes optimistic or pessimistic judgements using treat availability. This is assessed through a series of trials in which a food bowl with or without treats is presented to your dog, and we’re interested in the time it takes them to approach and claim their yummy treat!

This task will help us learn more about how your dog problem solves and what they do when there is no ‘solution’ to their problem. The problem is they can’t get to a treat! (Don’t worry, we give it to them in the end!)

Owners, we will need your help for this task! When you return to pick up your dog, we will ask that you help us complete this behavior test. With you standing next to them, we will show them a novel object and measure how they respond. Do they look to you for information or forge ahead on their own?

Our study veterinarian will conduct a routine physical, orthopedic and neurological examination. The results from these will be shared with you and your referring veterinarian.

We will ask you to complete questionnaires about yourself, your dog, and your relationship with your dog.

All behavioral testing is voluntary meaning that dogs may choose not to participate in any task at any time. Our goal is always to make sure your dog is happy and comfortable and ensure they associate the CVM with lots of fun, happy things!

Meet the Research Team

Dr. Margaret Gruen, Study Oversight (Principal Investigator)

Dr. Duncan Lascelles, Study Oversight (Co-Principal Investigator)

Dr. Rachel Caddiell, Lead Researcher (Co-Principal Investigator)

Dr. David Knazovicky, Study Veterinarian (Co-Investigator)

Ellie McNamee, Research Specialist

Study Flyer

Contact Us

For more information or any inquiries about participation, please contact our research team by email at