Staff Profile


Dr Britta Osthaus

Senior Lecturer

School: School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology

Campus: Canterbury

Tel: 01227 923913

Profile summary

Before this senior lectureship here at Christ Church University I was a teaching fellow at Exeter University whilst I was doing my PhD on canine problem solving abilites.

My research focusses on animal cognition, in particular on problem-solving abilities in dogs, horses, mules and donkeys.

My teaching responsibilities are closely linked to my research, as I am teaching Evolutionary Psychology, Practicals in Psychology, Classic Studies in Psychology and Animal Cognition.

Research and knowledge exchange

My current research focus is on the welfare of captive British wildlife. Local wildlife offers the chance to compare stress levels between wild and captive individuals and to also find behavioural correlates to physiological stress. The outcome of this project will provide guideline for zoos to enable them to assess the welfare of their animals via clear behavioural markers.

I also continue to test the cognitive abilities of dogs, horses, mules and donkeys, again with the overall aim of improving welfare by enhancing our understanding of their thinking.

Teaching and subject expertise

At Level 4 (First Year) I teach Practicals in Psychology, Classic Studies in Psychology and Evolutionary Psychology as part of the Brain and Mind module. At Level 5 (Second Year) I offer an optional seminar on Evolutionary Psychology. In the newly validated programme I will also offer a final year option in Animal Cognition. I supervise a variety of final year projects, ranging from the evolutionary causes of dental phobia to quantity perception in horses and dogs.

I am a member of the following societies and groups:

  • ASAB                       Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour
  • ISAE                        International Society for Applied Ethology
  • ISAZ                        International Society for Anthrozoology
  • HE Academy             formerly the Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education
  • Lundy Field Society

External activities

Dogs are stupid - talk given at "Recent Advances in Canine Behaviour", Anthrozoology Institute, School of Clinical Veterinary Science, University of Bristol. 25th of April 2012

Poster presentation at The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour Summer Conference 2011, Animal Intelligence, St Andrew's University, 18th to 19th of August,

Publications and research outputs

Osthaus, B., Marlow, D., & Ducat, P. (2010). Minding the gap: spatial perseveration error in dogs. Animal Cognition, 13(6), 881-885.

Proops, L., Burden, F., & Osthaus, B. (2012). Social relations in a mixed group of mules, ponies and donkeys reflect differences in equid type. Behavioural Processes, 90(3), 337.

Osthaus, B., Proops, L., Hocking, I., & Burden, F. (2013). Spatial cognition and perseveration by horses, donkeys and mules in a simple A-not-B detour task. Animal Cognition, 16(2), 301-305


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Last edited: 05/12/2017 03:57:00