Exploring the social behaviour of domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) in a public off-leash dog park

Howse, Melissa (2016) Exploring the social behaviour of domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) in a public off-leash dog park. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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The growing popularity of dog parks has created an opportunity to learn more about interactions between companion dogs. Dog-dog behaviour in a public off-leash dog park was described and analyzed using a motivationally-neutral approach. I observed focal dogs from park entry for 400 s and constructed activity time budgets (percentages of time spent with dogs, humans, etc.); rates of socially-relevant dog behaviours (e.g., snout-muzzle contact, physical contact) were also calculated. On average, focal dogs spent 50% of their time alone, nearly 40% with other dogs and 11% in other activities; time with dogs decreased and time alone increased over the first six minutes. Some behaviours were very frequent (i.e., more than 90% of focal dogs initiated and received snout-muzzle contact to the anogenital and head areas, while others were rare (i.e., 9% and 12% of focal dogs initiated and received lunge approaches, respectively). Dog density and focal dog age, sex, neuter status, and size were found to influence some behavioural variables. Future studies should continue to investigate the diverse range of canid behaviours and factors that influence social behaviours in dog park settings.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/11670
Item ID: 11670
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 97-108).
Keywords: Domestic dogs (Canis familiaris), Companion dogs, Dog-dog social behaviour, Dog interactions, Dog park
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Cognitive and Behavioural Ecology
Date: May 2016
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Dogs--Behavior; Parks for dogs; Social behavior in animals

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