Okay, here I go....
Originally Posted by Blue pup
If anyone could help me this would be awesome. My question: what are dogs?
Dogs, very generally, are traditionally referred to as a subspecies of the grey wolf (Canis lupus
). Wolves and humans came into contact and built close social bonds, either through companionship, or initially teamwork in hunting and protecting goods. There are many theories on how initial contact was made, although the most supported seems to be that wolves scavenged on human food waste, following groups of hunter-gatherers around.
This close relationship flourished and new forms of wolf-like canids formed. Humans began distributing themselves around the world, taking their dogs with them, which them bred with other indigenous wolf populations, whilst also being selectively bred by humans. It is very hard to pin down one typical 'wolf' or 'dog' due to the high amounts of crossbreeding that occurred between different populations. The expected time of domestication (humans artificially breeding and dogs' genetics actually adapting to the human environment) was, until very recently, believed to be around 15,000 years ago. However, recent archaeological evidence shows that a dog skull was said to be found 32,000 years ago. However, it is still difficult to be sure as, although dogs and wolves have different morphological measurements very generally, it is still difficult to discover what's a dog skull and a wolf skull due to the amounts of crossbreeding- a larger dog skull, a smaller wolf skull?
I grew up being taught that dogs are pack animals - like wolves. However as I did more research I found info that said that dogs are actually more like scavengers and more independent - since having to share food would be a disadvantage in this case.
Yes, wolves are typical pack animals. But dogs, as research on feral dog populations has shown us, are more scavenger like, do not form strict social groupings like wolves, have different mating patterns and cycles etc. Check out Bradshaw et al (2009) for a good synthesis.
I also wonder why do dogs do the things they do when with other dogs? |
Why are some dogs so dog agressive - is it genetics, the fact that they didn't recieve much socialization, or that they were taken from their litter too early?
Most likely mixes of all three, plus detrimental learning experiences and traumatic incidents. Genetics does have an affect on personality, however the ontological process seems to shape phenotypes and behavioural traits more so.
Why do dogs hump other dogs - do they consider this fun, are they trying to get the other dogs attention? (as well as the fact that it is a life skill )
Humping is a Fixed or Modal Action Pattern- an innate behaviour that is crucial to survival. Others include fight, flight and freeze. Humping comes under another 'f' word...
Humping is quite an automatic process in dogs, I think. When they become over-aroused (in play, sex, over-stimulating environments) they may use humping to be able to engage in some behaviour and calm themselves down.
Why do some dogs bully certain dogs and not others?
Social ineptness. Usually something lacking in their socialisation, which makes them unable to communicate and interact with other dogs sensibly. Like the school bully, something deeper is probably wrong in their lives to make them do what they are doing, and I think it is the same in dogs.
What exactly is "dominance"? What roll does it play in a dogs social behaviour. Why is it often thought that dogs are trying to "dominated" others (dogs/people) while they could actually be playing? |
I just would really like to undertsand a dogs behaviour in general a bit more... Especially so called "pack" behaviour...
Okay, 'dominance' has a number of definitions, which is why people get confused and use it so incorrectly.
In ethology, dominance is a description of relationships, more specifically, a role in a relationship. It is not to do about personality, as personalities change the whole time and a dog classified as 'the dominant' in one relationship, might be a 'subordinate' in another. For something to be classified as a dominance-subordinate relationship, there needs to be a equally-valued resource at stake- both parties must want it and, through agonistic body postures and vocalisations, one dog may 'win' the interaction consistently.
If that dog does 'win' (the issue of 'winning' is something that has never been really defined) consistently (e.g. a dog wins a bone 20 out of 20 times) that dog could be classified as fulfilling 'the dominant' role in the relationship, as the other member in the dyad will consistently defer
to the other member. Deference is the most important aspects of relationships, as this is how relationships are maintained...not through physical dominance and intimidation (although this may be an aspect of the relationship).
In hierarchies, the parents (breeding pair) are the dominant animals (with perhaps the male being the 'most dominant'). However, when it comes to domestic dogs, these labels get blown out of proportion. For their to be dominance, there has to be a hierarchy. Without a hierarchy and consistent relationships, dominance cannot exist. So the two dogs who meet each other in the park as strangers, or even once or twice a week, cannot be said to have a dominance relationship as there are no resources at stake, no consistent relationship and, most importantly, no hierarchy...presumably because there is no need for a hierarchy.
Dogs have all their resources controlled for them. Their lives are not at stake, they have vet cover, they get fed consistently, they don't need to compete (although some will RG, this is a training and socialisation issue primarily).
People who follow 'pack behaviour' fall into the pitfall of misunderstanding dominance. People think that dog packs are controlled with aggression and force, thinking that only the strongest individual can lead the pack/group. However, we know that packs are family units, controlled by age and perhaps sex. The older you are, the more privileges you have. Dominance is just a way of objectively labeling a members role in the hierarchy, not to imply one animal physically aggresses towards others to take the leadership role. Structure and roles are not fought for. A breeding pair have their offspring, that offspring will leave the pack around 2 years of age, with some females helping raise the new offspring. In effect, all members have the ability to become dominant animals if they secure a mate when they leave a pack.
Hope this is was helpful, sorry for the long post. I felt like waffling