Current research

The identification of dogs` emotional expressions using a facial action coding system

For my Bachelor`s degree, I studied Biology with the specialisation in Behavioural Biology and Neuroscience at the University of Göttingen, Germany. Under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Julia Fischer and Dr. Vanessa Schmitt from the Cognitive Ethology Lab of the German Primate Center, I conducted a reversed-reward contingency task with long-tailed macaques.

I continued with the “Interdisciplinary Master in Human-Animal Interactions” at the Messerli Research Institute of the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Austria. For my thesis, I developed an interdisciplinary research project in Animal Cognition and Animal Philosophy with the focus on empathy as my main topic. For the empirical part, I conducted a study with dogs at the Clever Dog Lab of the Comparative Cognition Unit of the Messerli Research Institute under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Ludwig Huber and Dr. Corsin Müller. For the philosophical part, which was supervised by Dr. Judith Benz-Schwarzburg of the Unit of Ethics and Human-Animal Studies of the Messerli Research Institute, I embedded and critically evaluated my findings of my empirical study in the context of current philosophical theories on empathy and morality in animals.

For my PhD dissertation, I investigate emotional expressions in dogs in a joint PhD project of the University of Bern, Division of Animal Welfare, and the University of Lincoln, Animal Behaviour, Cognition and Welfare Research Group. This dissertation also includes a philosophical part which is supervised by the Unit of Ethics and Human-Animal Studies of the Messerli Research Institute. 


For the full publication list, please check here.

Bremhorst, A., Bütler, S., Würbel, H., & Riemer, S. (2018). Incentive motivation in pet dogs - Preference for constant vs varied food rewards. Scientific Reports, 8(1).

Huber A, Barber ALA, Farago T, Müller CA, Huber L. (2017). Investigating emotional contagion in dogs (Canis familiaris) to emotional sounds of humans and conspecifics. Anim Cogn 20(4): 703-715. doi: 10.1007/s10071-017-1092-8.