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Pregled bibliografske jedinice broj: 368366

Communication patterns within a group of dogs living in a shelter

Petak, Irena
Communication patterns within a group of dogs living in a shelter 2008., magistarski rad, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Edinburgh

Communication patterns within a group of dogs living in a shelter

Petak, Irena

Vrsta, podvrsta i kategorija rada
Ocjenski radovi, magistarski rad

Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies





Bradshaw, John W. S.

Ključne riječi
Dog; Communication; Carnivora; Shelter; Dyad; Group

Animals communicate to convey information that can influence the behaviour of other animals. Information can be communicated as visual, tactile, vocal, olfactory or seismic signals. Research investigating the applied approach of animal communication tends to utilize knowledge acquired in recent decades. Therefore, the present review paper describes the modalities of communication in carnivores and gives a brief description of possible application in the shelter environment. In the order Carnivora both social and solitary species can be found, although they are predominantly solitary. Living with humans has greatly influenced dogs’ social lives and their social organisation does not resemble the organisational level of highly social wolves. Dogs communicate more with humans than with conspecifics. For carnivores the evolutionary development of vocalisation may be influenced by their social background or the species habitat. The vocal communication of dogs consists of many different sounds, such as barking, groaning, growling, grunting, hissing, howling, mewing, panting, puffing, screaming, tooth snapping, chattering, whining, and yelping. Visual communication can include eye contact, facial expressions, ear position, tail position, fur position, body postures and movements. Nevertheless, for many dog breeds the possibility to communicate precisely is lost due to an extreme diversity in morphological characters and paedomorphosis. Olfactory signals may include urine and faecal droppings, ground scratching, anal sac secretions, general body odour, the rubbing of certain body areas on a specific object, and rolling in noxious-smelling substances. Male urination can mostly be considered as scent marking. General body odour is a product of glands on the dog’ s feet, head, and anal region, the upper surface of the base of the tail and between the hind legs. Social investigatory behaviour between dogs is directed towards those body areas. The shelter environment is full of stimuli that may have communicative value for newcomers, such as the sound of numerous dogs barking, visual stimuli in the form of other dogs' postural displays, and finally an abundance of smells from conspecifics. Consequently, the existing communicative environment may have a negative effect on the dogs' behaviour and welfare, but equally communication parameters can be utilised as a positive environmental element ; eider as enrichment or a therapeutic method. Therefore, research that investigates the application of elements of dogs’ communication repertoire represents a new approach which may highly influence shelter dog welfare. In the majority of shelters dogs are kept in pairs or groups, which provides an environment with less social and physical deprivation, but equally may cause them stress. Thus, understanding dogs' communication in groups should make it possible to encourage desirable communicative patterns and prevent unwanted ones in shelter dogs. Therefore, this study was planned to determine communication patterns in a group of dogs in a shelter, in their dyadic and group interactions. Subjects were 14 neutered male dogs. The dogs were observed in their outdoor enclosure, where they were placed between 9 am and 4 pm. They were observed during 30 days, over 7 weeks, in total for 162 hours. Additionally, for one newly introduced dog, settlement into the group was recorded. The all-occurrence sampling method was used ; the dogs were continuously observed and sequences of each interaction were recorded as per ethogram. The findings showed that these group-housed dogs were engaged in different classes of dyadic and group interactions, resembling different communication patterns seen in wild canids. Individual dogs were frequently initiators of all three classes of dyadic interactions, that is, proactive neutral, proactive aggressive and reactive scent marking. Likewise, different dogs were recipients of the three classes of dyadic interactions. The predominant form of dyadic interactions was proactive neutral, while proactive aggressive behaviour was rarely observed, and the dogs frequently scent marked. All dogs also participated in three defined classes of group interactions. Two dogs vocalised regularly and received immediate reactions from the others in the group. At the group level, the dogs did not interact visually as frequently as they did by vocal or olfactory communication. Dogs differed in their rates of initiation of dyadic and group interactions, but the same dogs were recipients. The frequency of dyadic and group interactions that the dogs initiated was not influenced by their age or by the amount of time they had spent in the shelter. The number of dyadic interactions in which the newly introduced dog participated as initiator or recipient dropped during 7 weeks of observation, but his rate of group interactions remained stable. Some dogs showed a lot of interest in the observer, possibly indicating a need for human company. This research has presented some patterns of interactions that may be observed in the group of dogs, but due to limitations can be considered only as preliminary research.

Izvorni jezik

Znanstvena područja
Biologija, Veterinarska medicina


Projekt / tema
053-0532266-2220 - Odgovor akutne faze i aktivnost plazmatskih sustava u babeziozi (Vladimir Mrljak, )

Veterinarski fakultet, Zagreb

Autor s matičnim brojem:
Irena Petak, (264562)