Studying the signaling of domestic dogs is crucial to have a better understanding of this species. The aim of this study was to scientifically assess if the behaviors called calming signals have a communicative and a calming function (i.e., de-escalating the aggressive display in the other dog). Twenty-four dogs, 12 females and 12 males, acted as senders; they were observed for the display of the behaviors considered by Rugaas (2006) as calming signals (CS). The behavior of each sender dog was analyzed during four 5-minute off-leash encounters, in which the dog met four different recipients, respectively: a familiar and an unfamiliar dog of the same sex; a familiar and an unfamiliar dog of the other sex. The display and trend of aggressive behaviors in recipient dogs was also analyzed. In total, 2,130 CS were observed. Some behaviors were displayed more often than others, especially, head turning, licking nose, freezing and turning away. It was statistically more likely that the CS were sent while the two dogs were interacting rather than when there was no interaction (χ2 = 836.155; p < 0.001), suggesting these signals have a communicative role. The statistical analysis revealed that a higher number of signals were observed during meetings between unfamiliar dogs (χ2 = 108.721; p < 0.001). Head turning, nose licking, freezing, making him/herself smaller, and paw lifting were displayed by the sender statistically more frequently while interacting with unfamiliar dogs. Licking the other dog’s mouth was more commonly directed towards familiar dogs. In total, 109 episodes of aggressive behaviors were displayed by the recipient dogs. Aggressive episodes were never preceded by the display of a calming signal from the other dog. In 67.0% of cases (N = 73), at least one CS was displayed by the sender dog after having received an aggressive behavior from the recipient. When CS were displayed after an aggressive interaction, in 79.4% of cases (N = 58) there was a de-escalation in the aggressive display of the other dog. It was statistically less likely that the intensity of aggressive behaviors increased (5.5%/N = 4) or remained unvaried (15.1%/N = 11; χ2 = 13.17; p < 0.001). These findings suggest that these CS indeed have may have a role in social facilitation and preventing further aggressive behaviors.

Analysis of the intraspecific visual communication in the domestic dog (Canis familiaris): a pilot study on the case of calming signals

MARITI, CHIARA
Primo
;
ZILOCCHI, MARCELLA;SIGHIERI, CLAUDIO;OGI, ASAHI;GAZZANO, ANGELO
Ultimo
2017

Abstract

Studying the signaling of domestic dogs is crucial to have a better understanding of this species. The aim of this study was to scientifically assess if the behaviors called calming signals have a communicative and a calming function (i.e., de-escalating the aggressive display in the other dog). Twenty-four dogs, 12 females and 12 males, acted as senders; they were observed for the display of the behaviors considered by Rugaas (2006) as calming signals (CS). The behavior of each sender dog was analyzed during four 5-minute off-leash encounters, in which the dog met four different recipients, respectively: a familiar and an unfamiliar dog of the same sex; a familiar and an unfamiliar dog of the other sex. The display and trend of aggressive behaviors in recipient dogs was also analyzed. In total, 2,130 CS were observed. Some behaviors were displayed more often than others, especially, head turning, licking nose, freezing and turning away. It was statistically more likely that the CS were sent while the two dogs were interacting rather than when there was no interaction (χ2 = 836.155; p < 0.001), suggesting these signals have a communicative role. The statistical analysis revealed that a higher number of signals were observed during meetings between unfamiliar dogs (χ2 = 108.721; p < 0.001). Head turning, nose licking, freezing, making him/herself smaller, and paw lifting were displayed by the sender statistically more frequently while interacting with unfamiliar dogs. Licking the other dog’s mouth was more commonly directed towards familiar dogs. In total, 109 episodes of aggressive behaviors were displayed by the recipient dogs. Aggressive episodes were never preceded by the display of a calming signal from the other dog. In 67.0% of cases (N = 73), at least one CS was displayed by the sender dog after having received an aggressive behavior from the recipient. When CS were displayed after an aggressive interaction, in 79.4% of cases (N = 58) there was a de-escalation in the aggressive display of the other dog. It was statistically less likely that the intensity of aggressive behaviors increased (5.5%/N = 4) or remained unvaried (15.1%/N = 11; χ2 = 13.17; p < 0.001). These findings suggest that these CS indeed have may have a role in social facilitation and preventing further aggressive behaviors.
Mariti, Chiara; Falaschi, Caterina; Zilocchi, Marcella; Fatjò, Jaume; Sighieri, Claudio; Ogi, Asahi; Gazzano, Angelo
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11568/835281
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