Dr. Lee Niel

Meet Dr. Lee Niel

BSc, PhD

Profile(s): Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare, University of Guelph Experts, Department of Population Medicine

Keywords: Animal Welfare, Animal Behaviour, Fear, Stress, Aggression, Pain, Companion Animals, Laboratory Animals

Current Positions:

  • Associate Professor (Department of Population Medicine, University of Guelph, Ontario Veterinary College)
  • Colonel KL Campbell Chair in Companion Animal Welfare
  • Core Member of Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare

Seeking Partnerships in the Areas of:

Development and application of novel methods for the identification and management of animal stress and pain, and investigations into the causes of and treatments for fear and aggression in cats and dogs. 

Education and Employment Background:

Lee Niel received her PhD in applied animal behaviour and welfare from the Animal Welfare Program at the The University of British Columbia in 2006. She then completed an NSERC postdoctoral fellowship in behavioural neuroendocrinology at the University of Toronto before joining the University of Guelph’s Department of Population Medicine as the inaugural Col KL Campbell Chair in Companion Animal Welfare in 2010.

Research Themes & Interests:

Dr. Niel’s research program aims to understand and improve the welfare of companion animals, including dogs, cats and rabbits.  Her current research is focused on the following major themes:

  1. Investigating factors that influence the expression of fear and aggression in companion species. This includes both fundamental research aimed at understanding the development and maintenance of fear and aggression, and applied research examining strategies for prevention and treatment. In terms of prevention and treatment, her group is particularly interested in reducing fear and aggression in cats and dogs during routine veterinary handling and procedures.
  2. Developing novel methods for assessing welfare in companion species, with a focus on identification of fear, aggression and pain. This includes determining which behavioural and physiological measures are valid and reliable indicators of welfare at different life stages (e.g., puppies/kittens, adult animals) and in different contexts (e.g., general, during handling), and also looking at whether owners and other proxies are able to recognize and properly interpret these behaviours in animals.
  3. Understanding the welfare impacts of indoor restriction and outdoor access for companion cats. This research is focused on assessing the efficacy of environmental and social enrichments for improving cat welfare while indoors, and understanding the barriers to owners restricting uncontrolled outdoor access for cats.

Select Publications:



Email: lee.niel@uoguelph.ca 
Phone: (519) 824-4120 Ext: 53030 
Office: Stewart Building, Room 2526 

Ontario Veterinary College
University of Guelph
50 Stone Road E.,
Guelph, ON, Canada, N1G 2W1