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Claudia Maureen Vinke
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Dominance and its behavioral measures in group housed domestic dogs JOANNE A.M. VAN DER BORG 1,*, MATTHIJS B.H. SCHILDER 2, CLAUDIA VINKE 2 1Wageningen University, Behavioural Ecology Group, Department of Animal Sciences, PO Box 338, 6700 AH Wageningen, The Netherlands 2 Utrecht University, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Animals in Science & Society, P.O. Box 80166, 3508 TD Utrecht, The Netherlands *Presenting author: joanne.vanderborg@wur.nl +31 317 483926 Constructing dominance hierarchies is widely accepted to describe and explain an important aspect of the social organisation in group living animals. Dominance refers to a consistent fundamental asymmetry between individuals regarding competitive power and/or status, reflected by specific behaviors as well as in biologically relevant outcomes of dyadic interactions. Recently, this concept for dogs has been debated (e.g., Bradshaw et al., 2009), resulting in a growing consensus that dominance is not applicable to domestic dogs. However, quantitative data are scarce. Inthe present study, intotal 16 intact dogs of both sexes (3 adults, 2 sub adults, 7 juveniles, of which 4 litter mates, and 4 pups) were group housed (outdoor enclosure: 273 m2) during observations. The patterns of distribution of 7 postures and 25 behaviors exchanged within 4,874 dyadic interactions were observed over a period of 12 weeks.Data of the last 4 weeks were used for dominance analysis.We researched three properties (Van Hooff & Wensing,1987): coverage, linearity (h’) of the resulting rank order, and unidirectionality or directional consistency index (DCI). Two low postures (“Low” and “Low-on-back”) and two behaviors (“body tail wag” and “lick mouth”, as included in Schenkel’s active submission) showed to be good dominance indicators at individual level. For constructing a (nearly) linear dominance hierarchy the most suitable indicator was “lowering of posture”, evaluated by comparing the beginning and ending of the interaction for posture display. These findings show the construct of dominance to be valid in this group of domestic dogs. Our results are in agreement with the findings of Van Hooff andWensing for wolves (1987) and Cafazzo et al. (2010) for free-ranging dogs, and contradict the base for rejections of Bradshaw et al. (2009). It indicates that the ethogram for dogs is best redefined by distinguishing postures from behavioral activities. Also this can be helpful in properly interpreting and diagnosing problem behavior. Key words: dogs; dominance; hierarchy; linearity References Bradshaw, J.W.S., Blackwell, E.J., Casey, R.A., 2009. Dominance in domestic dogs e