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Forgotten, But Not Lost—Alloparental Behavior and Pup–Adult Interactions in Companion Dogs

By Péter Pongrácz, Sára S. Sztruhala

Category Journal Articles

Socialization with humans is known to be a pivotal factor in the development of appropriate adult dog behavior, but the role and extent of dog–dog interactions in the first two months of life is rarely studied. Although various forms of alloparental behaviors are described in the case of wild-living canids, the social network of companion dogs around home-raised puppies is almost unknown. An international online survey of companion dog breeders was conducted, asking about the interactions of other dogs in the household with the puppies and the pups’ mother. Based on the observations of these breeders, our study showed an intricate network of interactions among adult dogs and puppies below the age of weaning. Alloparental behaviors (including suckling and feeding by regurgitation) were reportedly common. Independent of their sex, other household dogs mostly behaved in an amicable way with the puppies, and in the case of unseparated housing, the puppies reacted with lower fear to the barks of the others. Parousness, sexual status, and age of the adult dogs had an association with how interested the dogs were in interacting with the puppies, and also with how the mother reacted to the other dogs. Our study highlights the possible importance of dog–dog interactions during the early life of puppies in forming stable and low-stress interactions with other dogs later in life.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2019
Publication Title Animals
Volume 9
Issue 12
Pages 17
Publisher MDPI
DOI 10.3390/ani9121011
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal roles
  3. Breeding
  4. Dogs
  5. Mammals
  6. open access
  7. Pets and companion animals
  1. open access