Dr. Stefanie Riemer

Group Leader Companion Animal Behaviour Group

Division of Animal Welfare

+41 31 684 24 28
Postal Address
Animal Welfare Division
Veterinary Public Health Institute
University of Bern
Länggassstrasse 120
3012 Bern

Current research

  • Dog Behaviour Decoded – Emotional Expressions in Canis familiaris 
  • Reward sensitivity in dogs – risk factor for addictive behaviour and key to trainability (SNF Ambizione Project PZ00P3_174221)
  • Reducing fear in dogs at the vets
  • Behavioural strategies in dogs during firework exposure
  • Preference for constant vs varied reinforcement in pet dogs

Research Project


We study behaviour, cognition and emotions in companion dogs. Our participants are normal pet dogs, who are volunteered by their owners to participate. Thanks to positive reinforcement in the form of treats and play, our subjects usually take part in our studies with great enthusiasm.

I graduated with a BSc in Animal Behaviour and Environmental Biology from Anglia Ruskin University, UK, with a thesis on captive spectacled bears. For my MSc project at University of Vienna, Austria, I studied the ecology of five woodpecker species at the Donauauen National Park in Lower Austria. I went on to do my PhD on behavioural development and physical cognition in domestic dogs at the Department of Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna, and at the Messerli Research Institute, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna. During my PhD I spent four months as a visiting researcher at the University of Lincoln, UK, to carry out a study on impulsivity in dogs. After finishing my PhD project in Vienna, I returned to Lincoln to work on the project “thermographic assessment of animal emotions”. This was followed by a postdoctoral research fellowship, also in Lincoln, on the successive negative contrast effect (or sensitivity to reward change) in dogs. I am now pursuing my interest in animal emotions, cognition and behaviour further with research projects on pet dogs’ emotional expression and reward sensitivity at the University of Berne.

For the full publication list, please check here.