Rob Christley

Dr Robert Christley

Deputy Head of Research


  • BVSc. University of Sydney (Australia) 
  • DipVetClinStud University of Sydney (Australia) 
  • MVetClinStud University of Sydney (Australia) 
  • PhD Lower airway disease in racehorses University of Sydney (Australia) 
  • DipECVPH(PM) Diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Public Health (Subspecialty Population Medicine) 
  • Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons   


Rob's role

Rob is Deputy Head of Research, and manages the Policy & Impact Evaluation Team, which works towards better understanding the lives of dogs and their interactions with people. Major on-going work in the team includes the UK Pet Dog Population Study, the Choosing My Dog Study and the Post-Adoption Project. The team also support the work of other Dogs Trust departments to develop evidence-based policies. 



Rob grew up in Sydney, Australia, where he also went to Vet School. He undertook a clinical internship at the University of Sydney and worked in private veterinary practice in Australia and the UK, before completing a residency and Master's degree in exercise physiology. Following another stint in practice (in the UK) he completed a PhD in epidemiology, an interest Rob pursued whilst a clinical lecturer at the University of Glasgow Veterinary School. 

Looking to specialise further, Rob moved to the University of Liverpool Vet School to as a Lecturer and, ultimately, Professor of Epidemiology and One Health, where his work encompassed a wide range of animal species in the UK and abroad. An emerging theme in this work identified the key impacts arising through the close interactions between people and animals, leading Rob to develop additional expertise in the sociology of human-animal interactions. Rob has published over 160 scientific papers, several book chapters and co-edited the 4th edition of Veterinary Epidemiology.

Rob joined Dogs Trust in 2019, where he can focus his work on improving the lives of our canine companions. This has pleased his own dog Lottie, a Patterdale X Lakeland terrier, who is happy to see he has his priorities right! 


Projects Rob is working on

Choosing My Dog, UK Pet Dog Population Project, The Impact of COVID-19 on Dog Welfare, Evaluation of Dog School USA, Stray Dogs Survey, Longevity of UK Dog Breeds


Selected publications

  • Christley R, Nelson G, Millman C, Westgarth C. Assessment of Detection of Potential Dog-Bite Risks in the Home Using a Real-Time Hazard Perception Test. Anthrozoos, 2021.
  • Tulloch J, Minford S, Pimblett V, Rotheram M, Christley R, Westgarth C. Paediatric emergency department dog bite attendance during the COVID-19 pandemic: an audit at a tertiary children’s hospital. BMJ Paediatrics Open, 2021.
  • Holland K, Mead R, Casey R, Upjohn M, Christley R. “Don’t Bring Me a Dog…I’ll Just Keep It”: Understanding Unplanned Dog Acquisitions Amongst a Sample of Dog Owners Attending Canine Health and Welfare Community Events in the United Kingdom. Animals, 2021.
  • Holland K, Owczarczak-Garstecka S, Anderson K, Casey R, Christley R, Harris L, McMillan K, Mead R, Murray J, Samet L, Upjohn M. “More Attention than Usual”: A Thematic Analysis of Dog Ownership Experiences in the UK during the First COVID-19 Lockdown. Animals, 2021.
  • Christley R, Murray J, Anderson K, Buckland E, Casey R, Harvey N, Harris L, Holland K, McMillan K, Mead R, Owczarczak-Garstecka S, Upjohn M. Impact of the First COVID-19 Lockdown on Management of Pet Dogs in the UK.. Animals, 2020.
  • Westgarth C, Christley R, Marvin G, Perkins, E. Functional and recreational dog walking practices in the UK. Health Promotion International, 2020.
  • Westgarth C, Christley R, Jewell C, German A, Boddy L, Christian H. Dog owners are more likely to meet physical activity guidelines than people without a dog. Scientific Reports, 2019.
  • Westgarth C, Christley R, Marvin G, Perkins E. The Responsible Dog Owner: The construction of responsibility. Anthrozoos, 2019.
  • Oxley J, Christley R, Westgarth C. What is a dog bite? Perceptions of UK dog bite victims. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 2019
  • Purewal, R, Westgarth C, Christley R, Kordas K, Joinson C, Meints K, Gee N. Socio-demographic factors associated with Pet Ownership amongst Adolescents from a UK Birth Cohort. BMC Veterinary Research, 2019.
  • Hamilton-Elliott J, Ambrose E, Christley R, Dukes-McEwan J. White blood cell differentials in dogs with congestive heart failure (CHF) in comparison to those in dogs without cardiac disease. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 2018.
  • Hidano A, Enticott G, Christley R, Gates M. Modeling Dynamic Human Behavioral Changes in Animal Disease Models: Challenges and Opportunities for Addressing Bias. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 2018.
  • Neves J, Pedro B, Christley R, Dukes-McEwan J. Usefulness of pulsed-wave tissue Doppler imaging at the mitral annulus for prediction of new-onset atrial fibrillation in dogs. Journal of Veterinary Cardiology, 2018.
  • Owczarczak-Garstecka S, Watkins F, Christley R, Westgarth C. Online videos indicate human and dog behaviour preceding dog bites and the context in which bites occur. Scientific Reports, 2018
  • Owczarczak-Garstecka S, Watkins F, Christley R, Yang H, Westgarth C. Exploration of Perceptions of Dog Bites among YouTubeTM Viewers and Attributions of Blame. Anthrozoos, 2018.  
  • Oxley J, Christley R, Westgarth C. Contexts and consequences of dog bite incidents. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 2018.
  • Stringer A, Christley R, Bell C, Gebreab F, Reed K, Trawford A, et al. Evaluating the Efficacy of Knowledge-Transfer Interventions on Animal Health Knowledge of Rural Working Equid Owners in Central Ethiopia: A Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 2018.
  • Sudunagunta S, Dukes-McEwan J. Comparing the prevalence of pulmonary hypertension in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and other breeds in dogs with myxomatous mitral valve disease. BSAVA Congress Proceedings, 2018.  
  • Purewal R, Christley R, Kordas K, Joinson C, Meints K, Gee N, et al. Companion animals and child/adolescent development: A systematic review of the evidence. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2017.
  • Westgarth C, Christley R, Marvin G, Perkins E. I walk my dog because it makes me happy: A qualitative study to understand why dogs motivate walking and improved health. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2017
  • Westgarth C, Ness A, Mattocks C, Christley R. A birth cohort analysis to study dog walking in adolescence shows no relationship with objectively measured physical activity. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 2017.
  • Robin C, Perkins E, Watkins F, Christley R. Pets, purity and pollution: Why conventional models of disease transmission do not work for pet rat owners. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2017.
  • Westgarth C, Christian H, Christley R. Factors associated with daily walking of dogs. BMC Veterinary Research, 2015.
  • Westgarth C, Christley R, Christian H. How might we increase physical activity through dog walking?: A comprehensive review of dog walking correlates. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 2014.
  • Scantlebury C, Perkins E, Pinchbeck G, Archer D, Christley R. Could it be colic? Horse-owner decision making and practices in response to equine colic. BMC Veterinary Research, 2014.
  • Okell C, Pinchbeck G, Stringer A, Tefera G, Christley R. A community-based participatory study investigating the epidemiology and effects of rabies to livestock owners in rural Ethiopia. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 2013.

Selected posters

  • Christley R, Murray J, Anderson K, Buckland E, Casey R, Harvey N, et al. Dogs and Covid-19: impact of the first UK lockdown on dog walking. SVEPM, 2021

Selected presentations

ISAZ 2021 - Rob - Impacts of COVID 19 on dog-human interactions and support for dogs PDF 85 KB