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Leadership existing in Dogs

01-24-2014 17:43

One would be wondering whether there is a leader in dogs to decide the direction of their collective movements, just similar to wolves, their closest relatives. One research group from Hungary collected GPS trajectory data from an owner and her six dogs during several walks. They found that dogs adjusted their trajectories to that of the owner: they run away periodically from the owner, turn back and return to her in a loop. By analyzing the tracks, they concluded that running away and turning back to the owner were not based on an egalitarian system; instead, leader dogs exert a disproportionate influence on the movement of the group. Dogs that consistently took the lead were more trainable, controllable, and aggressive, additionally they are older than follower/subordinate dogs. This Dog model is very helpful for us to understand human social behavior, such as walking with children and detecting interactions between individuals. This research has been published in PLOS Computational Biology.

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