About Us

The Clever Canine Lab was established in 2017 and is located within the University of Auckland’s Tāmaki Campus.

Its primary objective is to explore dogs’ sophisticated social cognition abilities. Our work involves liaising with dog owners in the wider Auckland community who volunteer their pet dogs to take part in our research. Owners and dogs are invited to attend sessions together, as most experiments involve both owner and dog participation.

This work has wide ranging implications for our understanding of how intelligence evolves and how processes such as domestication may affect it. We are particularly interested in the cognition underlying the social bond dogs have with their owners. We believe that a better understanding of this bond will have an impact on dog welfare and in training.

The Clever Canine Lab’s website provides further information for researchers, volunteers and participants who may be interested in this work.


The Clever Canine Lab runs year round and offers research opportunities for honours, masters and PhD students. If you are interested in working with us please contact Dr Alex Taylor. Please direct all other enquiries to the Clever Canine Lab.

Our Team


The Clever Canine Lab has been featured in several media outlets. Here is some of the coverage for our work:


Below is a list of our most recent publications:

Bastos, A. P. M., Neilands, P., Hassall, R., Lim, B. C., Taylor, A. H. (2021) Dogs mentally represent jealousy-inducing social interactions. Psychological Science 32(5): 646-654. DOI: 10.1177/0956797620979149

Neilands, P., Claessens, S., Ren, I., Hassall, R., Bastos, A. P. M., & Taylor, A. H. (2020) Contagious yawning is not a signal of empathy: no evidence of familiarity, gender, or prosociality biases in dogs. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 287, 20192236. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2019.2236

Neilands, P., Hassall, R., Derks, F., Bastos, A. P. M., & Taylor, A. H. (2020). Watching eyes do not stop dogs stealing food: evidence against a general risk-aversion hypothesis for the watching-eye effect. Scientific Reports 10, 1153. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-58210-4