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Maturation and development of social behaviour during early ontogeny in free-ranging dog puppies in West Bengal, India

By S. K. Pal

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Six bitches and their offspring were observed in the natural environment to study the early ontogeny of certain processes like eye opening, nipple preference, play, sexual activities and locomotion. Thirteen puppies out of 35 survived at the age of 3 months indicating 63% mortality. Eye slits were observed on day 12 (median) of life, and the eyes completely opened on 17 day (median) of life. The rearmost (fourth) nipple pair presumably containing more milk was suckled preferably by the puppies showing no sex bias. Social communication among the littermates was developed through playful interactions. Play behaviour developed in three subsequent stages - social play, agonistic play, and pseudo-sexual activity; at 3, 5 and 6 weeks, respectively. Playful interactions increased with the age of the puppies to establish a stable social hierarchy, and suddenly decreased between 8 and 10 weeks of life. Aggressive play tended to be initiated by males and specific individuals within a litter, suggesting individual variation in aggressiveness. Development of pseudo-sexual behaviour especially in male puppies by week 6 was an interesting feature of this study. The puppies were mobile at the age of week 3 when the eyes completely opened, and they were highly mobile when the suckling bouts disappeared and they traveled independently for food collection (10-11 weeks of life).

Date 2008
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 111
Issue 1/2
Pages 95-107
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Katwa Bharati Bhaban, Katwa, Burdwan 713 130, West Bengal, India.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Aggression
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Asia
  4. Commonwealth of Nations
  5. Developed countries
  6. Development
  7. Dogs
  8. Feeding behavior
  9. India
  10. Locomotion
  11. Mammals
  12. morphogenesis
  13. ontogeny
  14. peer-reviewed
  15. Pets and companion animals
  16. physical activity
  17. sex differences
  18. Sexual behavior
  19. sexuality
  20. Sexual practices
  21. Social behavior
  22. Social Dominance
  23. stray animals
  24. suckling
  25. West Bengal
  26. young animals
  1. peer-reviewed