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My name is Emily Bray and I study how dogs think, problem solve, and interact with their world and our own species, including the various factors that influence those behaviors. Explore my website to learn more about my research.

How do your earliest interactions affect the rest of your life? Why is impulse control so difficult in some contexts but not others? When can we detect warning signs of cognitive decline? What are the characteristics of a successful working dog, and how soon can we tell? Will the puppies outsmart me today? (Invariably, yes.)

I recently started as an assistant professor of human-animal interaction in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Arizona. I will be heading up the BRAY (Behavioral Research Across Years) lab, which seeks to answer all the above questions and more within our main study species, the domestic dog.

I earned my PhD in Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania where I worked with Robert Seyfarth, Dorothy Cheney, and James Serpell. For my dissertation, I partnered with The Seeing Eye, Inc.  to conduct a longitudinal study investigating puppy development, which involved tracking a cohort of 138 puppies from birth until completion of the program. After graduating, I was a post-doctoral research associate at the Arizona Canine Cognition Center (in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Arizona) and Canine Companions, where I studied how early developmental, behavioral, and cognitive factors impact later life outcomes.


Prior to UPenn, I earned a B.A. in Psychology and English from Duke University, where I worked at the Duke Canine Cognition Center studying inhibitory control in pet and Canine Companions® service dogs with Evan MacLean and Brian Hare.


My research

I'm a member of the Canine Companions research team, where we conduct pioneering cognitive research. Take a peek at what we are currently studying!  Through studying canine cognition, health, and genetics, it is my goal to improve the success of service dogs and the dogs’ impact on their handlers. Also, by doing this research, I am working to not only actively support the mission of Canine Companions, but also to unlock factors that will set up all dogs for success, ranging from pet dogs to working dogs.

Watch my research in action

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