Dr Sarah Millsopp

Lecturer in Animal Behaviour and Welfare

I specialise in animal behaviour and welfare. I am particularly interested in companion animal behaviour and welfare and fish welfare. I am widely published in both journals and the media on a number of subject areas including laterality (paw preference) in cats, early learning in cats and the potential for pain perception in fish.

I teach on a number of undergraduate modules, and am module leader for the Level 5 module, Domestic Animal Husbandry and Welfare and the Level 6 module, Behaviour Management & Welfare. 

Qualifications

BSc (hons), PhD, PGCLTHE, FHEA

Overview

I was awarded my degree in Zoology and my PhD in Animal Behaviour and Welfare (Thesis title: Stress, Pain and Welfare of Farmed Fish) by the School of Biological Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast. After completing my degree, I joined the School of Psychology (QUB) to pursue post-doctoral research on cat behaviour. My main area of enquiry was the impact of pre, post and perinatal exposure to scents on the development of food preferences in cats. I also studied laterality (or paw preference) in cats, and its ontogeny, the impact of owner personality on dog breed choices, and the psychology of dog fouling.

While completing my post-doc, I started my own pet behaviour counselling business, Dr Sarah Talks Pet Behaviour. Through my business, I offered pet training and pet behaviour modification advice for people struggling with their pet’s behaviour. I also provided education to the public via radio and TV appearances, as well as being widely published in newspapers and online, discussing pet behaviour and welfare.

Teaching

I currently teach on BI4118 Introduction to Animal Behaviour, BI5136 Domestic Animal Husbandry and Welfare, BI6173 Behaviour Management and Welfare, BI6169 Stress and Welfare Assessment in Animals and am a supervisor at Level 6 for companion animal and fish behaviour and welfare research projects.

Research

My areas of interest for research are companion animal behaviour and welfare (pet behaviour problems and their treatment, companion animal husbandry and its impact on welfare), laterality in animals, cat predation and wildlife and fish welfare (fish husbandry and its impact on welfare, sentience in fish). 

Possible PhD projects for self-funded students:

  • The welfare of pets in multi-species households
  • The trainability of the domestic cat
  • The impact of domestic cat predation on wildlife populations across the UK
  • The impact of early experience and personality type on predatory behaviour in domestic cats
  • The impact of husbandry and social environment on the welfare of rabbits
  • Lateralised swimming behaviour in the domestic dog
  • Lateralised behaviour in companion animals
  • The impact of environmental enrichment on the behaviour and welfare of fish

Published work

Millsopp, S., Westgarth, C., Barclay, R., and Ward, M. (2014). Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC) Annual Review of Cases 2012. http://www.apbc.org.uk/system/files/apbc_annual_report_2012.pdf

Hepper, P.G., Wells, D.L., Millsopp, S., Kraehenbuehl, K., Lyn, S.A, and Mauroux, O. (2012). Prenatal and early sucking influences on dietary preference in newborn, weaning and young adult cats. Chemical Senses, 37, 755-766.

Wells, D.L., and Millsopp, S. (2012). The ontogeny of lateralized behavior in the domestic cat, Felis silvestris catusThe Journal of Comparative Psychology, 126, 23-30.

Wells, D.L., Millsopp, S. (2009). Lateralised Behaviour in the Domestic Cat, Felis silvestris catusAnimal Behaviour78, 537-541.

Millsopp, S., and Laming, P.R. (2008). Trade-offs between feeding and shock avoidance in the goldfish (Carrassius auratus)Applied Animal Behaviour Science113, 247-254.

Dunlop, R.A., Millsopp, S., and Laming, P.R. (2006). Avoidance learning in goldfish (Carrassius auratus) and trout (Oncorhycus mykiss) and implications for pain perception. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 97, 255-271.