Playing styles and possible causative factors in dogs' behaviour when playing with humans

Research output: Article

23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Individual differences and causative factors could modify the behaviour of dogs in object related games played with a human partner. In a two-by-two within-subject design we observed 68 family dogs' behaviour when playing two different types of games (ball game and tugging) with two different play partners (owner or unfamiliar experimenter) in order to categorize each dog's playing style. In all four conditions we have measured the following behavioural variables: tendency for possession, willingness to retrieve, behaviours related to fear/avoidance and aggression, and occurrence of play bows. We also calculated the relative duration of time when the dogs oriented "outwards" from the play situation to the other non-interacting person (owner or experimenter) during a session. Than we examined the effect of six factors on dog-human play behaviour: the familiarity of the play partner, the type of the game, the dogs' gender, age and breed, and the duration of daily active interaction between dog and owner. We used factor analysis to unfold the relationship among the recorded variables and revealed three factors that accounted for 63% of the total variance. On Factor 1 variables measured in tugging with both the experimenter and owner had high loadings (labelled "Motivation for tugging"). Factor 2 contained all variables measuring fear and avoidance (Fear/Avoidance), and Factor 3 consisted of variables measured in ball game (Motivation for ball game). The cluster analysis of the dogs' individual factor scores classified them into 5 significantly different groups on the basis of their tendency to be involved in playing with a ball, a rag and to show fear/avoidance during the tests. Moreover, the gender (but not the age or breed) of the dogs and the duration of the daily active interaction with the owner had significant effects on the distribution of dogs between the cluster groups. These results suggest that in play situations the behaviour of well socialized family dogs is influenced more by their motivation to play and to a certain extent by the level of fear than by the familiarity of the play partner or their possible general tendencies for cooperative or competitive behaviours.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-484
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume114
Issue number3-4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - dec. 1 2008

    Fingerprint

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology

Cite this