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

By P. D. McGreevy, M. Starling, N. J. Branson, M. L. Cobb, D. Calnon

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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 ethogram to human-dog and dog-human interactions may have limited scope. The balance of learning theory 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 confusing 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.

Publication Title Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research
Volume 7
Issue 2
Pages 103-117
ISBN/ISSN 1558-7878
DOI 10.1016/j.jveb.2011.06.001
Author Address Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006,
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animals
  3. Attitudes
  4. Canidae
  5. Canine
  6. Carnivores
  7. Cleaning
  8. Dogs
  9. Dominance
  10. Education
  11. Handling
  12. Humans
  13. Interactions
  14. Interventions
  15. Mammals
  16. Men
  17. peer-reviewed
  18. Pets and companion animals
  19. Primates
  20. Psychiatry and psychology
  21. Research
  22. Reviews
  23. Social psychology and social anthropology
  24. Storage and Transport Equipment
  25. Techniques
  26. training
  27. vertebrates
  1. peer-reviewed