Dorte Bratbo Sørensen

Dorte Bratbo Sørensen


Research Interests

Animal Behaviour and Welfare

My research interests are evolving around Animal behaviour and Animal welfare. Working in the CALAR 1 research group, evaluating the impact on different housing systems and a variety of enrichment items for laboratory animals is my major field. Since laboratory animals spend most of their life in their cages, the cage environment intuitively affects the life of an animal to a very great extent. If the housing conditions are poor, uncomfortable and holds no complexity, the welfare of the animals is reduced. Measuring the welfare of an animal is not as straight forward as it may seem: Either we can regard the basic values that contribute to animal welfare as being objective, such as good biological functioning or the possibility to perform natural behaviours and to "express your self". We assess these values using measures such as reproduction rate, disease prevalence, levels of stress hormones and occurrence of normal as well as abnormal behaviour as well as the ability to learn. Alternatively the basic values may be subjective in nature, relating to the inner mental state of the animal, such as feelings and preferences. As we are not yet able to see what's going on inside the animal's head, these values cannot be directly measured. However, using standard behavioural tests assessing e.g. the anxiety-level and exploratory behaviour in an animal and also preferences in a choice-test, we obtain an indirect measure of some of the feelings and preferences in these animals. One species of laboratory animal in particular is able to form strong social bonds with humans, namely the dog. Training, socialising and stimulating laboratory pigs and dogs are also one of my main interests; especially the use of positive reinforcement training as a way of enhancing animal welfare and optimizing the collection of physiological data.

1 Centre for Applied Laboratory Animal Research.



2001 to present

Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Denmark. Presently employed as an associate professor

1996 to 2001

Department of Ethology, Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Denmark.

1994 to 1995

Manager and Veterinarian at a large Animal Shelter in Copenhagen

1993 to 1994

Small Animal veterinarian, ADAs Animal Hospital, Hedehusene, Denmark

Academic degrees


Ph.D. in Ethology and Welfare from the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University of Copenhagen. Title of thesis: Evaluating Animal Welfare: Assessing the substitutability of two environmental factors by use of operant conditioning


DVM from the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Denmark

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