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Summer Research Fellowship Programme of India's Science Academies

BEHAVIOURAL STUDY IN FREE-RANGING DOGS

MEBIN GEORGE VARGHESE

CMS College, Kottayam, Kerala

DR. ANINDITA BHADRA

Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Kolkata, West Bengal

ABSTRACT

Free ranging dogs, Canis lupus familiaris, considered man's best friend, evolved from gray wolves through a process of domestication. Though an integral part of the human environment in many countries, including India, very little is known about their natural history, behaviour and ecology in their natural habitat. There are many theories providing information about their evolution and their domestication process. They show a great degree of social cognitive abilities, being highly socialized with humans, as opposed to their immediate cousins, the gray wolves. Free-ranging dogs, that form freely breeding populations in most developing nations, can act as excellent model systems for understanding the evolution of the dog-human relationship. Free-ranging dogs are primarily scavengers, depending on humans for their existence. Studying their abilities would help us to understand the co-evolution of dogs and man, and how domestication has affected their eco-ethology. I was involved in three projects studying post sterilization and territorial behavior, and also carried out a set of experiments to test the ability of free-ranging dogs to follow subtle human gestures like a momentary distal pointing.

Keywords: Ad-libitum study, ethogram, post-sterilization behaviour, territorial behaviour, momentary distal pointing

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