Free-Ranging Dogs Understand Human Intentions and Adjust Their Behavioral Responses Accordingly
Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) are remarkably sensitive and responsive while interacting with humans. Pet dogs are known to have social skills and abilities to display situation-specific responses, but there is lack of information regarding free-ranging dogs which constitute majority of the world's dog population. Free-ranging dogs found in most of the developing countries interact constantly with familiar and unfamiliar humans receiving both positive and negative behavior. Thus,
... avior. Thus, understanding human intentions and subsequent behavioral adjustments are crucial for dogs that share habitats with humans. Here we subjected free-ranging dogs to different human social communicative cues (friendly and threatening-low and high), followed by a food provisioning phase, and tested their responsiveness. Dogs exhibited higher proximity seeking behavior as a reaction to friendly gesture whereas, they were prompted to maintain distance depending on the impact of the threatening cues. Interestingly, only the high-impact threatening had a persistent effect which also remained during the subsequent food provisioning phase. An elevated approach in the food provisioning phase elicited the dependency of freeranging dogs on humans for sustenance. Our findings suggest that free-ranging dogs demonstrate behavioral plasticity in interactions with humans; which provides significant insights into the establishment of the dog-human relationship on streets.