An overview of the dog–human dyad and ethograms within it

Journal of Veterinary Behavior Clinical Applications and Research (Impact Factor: 0.96). 03/2012; 2012(7):103-117. DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2011.06.001


This article reviews the literature on the complex and variable nature of the dog–human dyad and describes the influence of terms such as ''dominance'' on attitudes that humans have toward dogs. It highlights a legacy of tension between ethology and psychology and notes that some practitioners have skills with dogs that elude the best learning theorists. Despite the widespread appeal of being able to communicate with dogs as dogs do with one another, attempting to apply the intraspecific dog etho-gram to human–dog and dog–human interactions may have limited scope. The balance of learning the-ory and ethology on our interactions with dogs is sometimes elusive but should spur the scientific community to examine skills deployed by the most effective humane practitioners. This process will demystify the so-called whispering techniques and permit discourse on the reasons some training and handling techniques are more effective, relevant, and humane than others. This article explores the mismatch between the use of nonverbal communication of 2 species and offers a framework for future studies in this domain. Technologies emerging from equitation science may help to disclose con-fusing interventions through the collar and lead and thus define effective and humane use of negative reinforcement. The case for a validated intraspecific and interspecific canid ethogram is also made.

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    • "Additionally, there is evidence that dog–human relationships are distinct from intraspecific relationships, thus a dominance hierarchy may not be relevant to dog–human interactions (Rooney et al., 2001). Indeed, standing over dogs to examine them often disquiets them, possibly due to its similarity to an aversive intraspecific behaviour (McGreevy et al., 2012a). Furthermore, given that examination tables often raise dogs higher than is normal, animals may react unpredictably to this 'novelty' and even show aggression. "
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    ABSTRACT: This review collates peer-reviewed evidence for desirable attributes for those who work with dogs and horses. It is written with a particular focus on the veterinary profession. Although veterinarians and veterinary nurses (VNs) occupy variable roles when interacting with their patients, several behavioural attributes emerge as helpful across the range of such roles. In light of recent research on the value of considering animals' arousal and affective state as predictors of behaviour and welfare, best practice in human-horse and human-dog-interactions is outlined. The attributes of affiliation, safety and positive reinforcement seem to contribute greatly to the development and maintenance of moderate arousal and positive affect in animals. The information in this review article is offered in an attempt to show why veterinary professionals with good horsemanship are likely to remain safe, and to introduce the concept of dogmanship. In the light of the peer-reviewed evidence assembled here, it is arguable that veterinary teams, comprising both veterinarians and VNs, can become scholars in these areas. The benefits of this approach for practitioner safety, animal welfare and client satisfaction are likely to be significant. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2015 · The Veterinary Journal
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    • "A comparable quick assessment may occur in dogs and explain the spontaneous behavioral exchanges between unfamiliar dogs as shortly mentioned in the previous section. McGreevy et al. (2012) give an interesting overview of (dis) similarities between dogs and people regarding communicative signals. They mention a number of behaviors (Tables 4, 5, 6: p. 110- 112) like stand over, stare, place paw on to forequarter, averting eye contact, submissive grin, and submissive posture as signals that occur in humans and dogs. "
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    ABSTRACT: In the last decade, the validity and relevance of the dominance model was regularly put into question regarding relationships between canids like dogs and wolves, and consequently, human-dog relationships as well. The concept underlying this model, scientifically defined as an intervening variable reflecting status difference between individuals, is applicable when formal status signals symbolize the long-term relationship between individuals, resulting in a formalized dominance hierarchy. This paper reviews the basics underlying the concept of dominance and reflects on the value and importance of some new quantitative studies on the applicability of the concept of dominance in domestic dogs. The conclusions are, firstly, that formal dominance is present in the domestic dog, expressed by context-independent unidirectional formal status signals. Consequently, formal dominance (e.g. submission) plays an important role in assessing status in dog-dog relationships. Secondly, that non-verbal status related communication in humans resembles that in dogs to a considerable degree and hence dogs may be well able to interpret this human status related non-verbal communication from their perspective. Dominance is therefore also likely to play a role in human-dog relationships. Hence, the dominance concept might be useful to explain the development of certain problems in dog-dog and in dog-human relationships. However, enforcing a dominant status by a human may entail considerable risks and should therefore be avoided.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · Journal of Veterinary Behavior Clinical Applications and Research
    • "Experiences such as these may result in a decrease in the frequency of behaviours positively related to boldness and an increase in frequency and intensity of the avoidance behaviours towards non-social objects negatively associated with boldness. This possibility raises questions about how dogs' interactions with social and non-social stimuli are routinely managed by dog owners (McGreevy et al., 2012), and the long-term effects this may be having on both how the dogs are likely to behave and their emotional state in their day-to-day lives. A previous study of 264 dogs found that sociability decreased with age, but no differences in personality between sex or breed were detected (Wahlgren and Lester, 2003). "
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    ABSTRACT: Boldness in dogs is believed to be one end of the shy-bold axis, representing a super-trait. Several personality traits fall under the influence of this super-trait. Previous studies have found that boldness is affected by breed and breed groups, influences performance in sporting dogs, and is affected in some cases by the sex of the dogs. This study investigated the effects of dog age, sex and reproductive status on boldness in dogs by way of a dog personality survey circulated amongst Australian dog owners. Age had a significant effect on boldness (F=4.476; DF=16,758; P<0.001), with boldness decreasing with age in years. Males were bolder than females (F=19.219; DF=1,758; P<0.001) and entire dogs were bolder than neutered dogs (F=4.330; DF=1,758; P<0.038). The study indicates how behaviour may change in adult dogs as they age and adds to the literature on how sex and reproductive status may affect personality in dogs.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2013 · The Veterinary Journal
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