You might image a dog catching a ball or using a leash when you think about canine habits. However, more than 70% of dogs on the planet are not owned by people. They are wild animals that frequently coexist with humans but are not related to any human family.
The researchers point out that the Indian Native dog, also known as the Indian Pariah dog, typically lives on the streets and subsists on donations from the public and trash. They can be found anywhere, from large towns to the periphery of forests, living either alone or in tiny groups. They have short fur, spotty coats, and wolf-like faces. Less than half of the puppies born to female dogs’ annual litters, which usually occur in the spring or fall, make it to adulthood.
Majumder, Chatterjee, and Bhadra spent a number of days between 2008 and 2011 observing street dogs in three different metropolitan areas: the township of Kalyani in West Bengal, college campuses in Mohanpur, West Bengal, and Bangalore, Karnataka. While avoiding midday, when dogs often relax away from the heat, and stopping at 7:30 p.m., when it got too dark to view dogs in unlit areas, they observed the dogs’ behavior during the day at periods when both humans and dogs are typically active. As they walked along a random road in the designated location, the observers noted any dogs they came across, noting their apparent age, sex, activity, and vocalizations.
Only the behavior observed at the time of the sighting was recorded for each dog, the authors state. “Scratching was documented as the observed behavior, for instance, if a dog was seen scratching itself and then sniffing grass.”
1,941 dog sightings were noted by the observers. They discovered that the behaviors of the dogs in various settings, at various ages, or with different sexes did not differ significantly.
In India, many people despise street dogs because they think they are harmful or irritating. They occasionally get into food fights and could be rabies carriers, which is a big health risk in India where two out of every 100,000 humans get the virus every year. But the researchers did not discover many aggressive behaviors. In actuality, the dogs lazed around the majority of the time. The canines were inactive (classified as “sleep,” “laze,” or “sit”) in 53 percent of the observations.
Another 16% of the observations involved dogs that were just walking—individually or in packs. They spent just around ten percent of their time associating with other animals, and less than six percent of their time grooming, scratching, defecating, drinking, and sniffing trash (other dogs, humans, cats, or, on two occasions, calves). No one was aggressive in the thirty-two recorded interactions with people. Instead, they included gestures like pleading for food and tail-wagging.
The researchers draw the conclusion that “our analysis suggests that dogs are generally pleasant and lethargic animals, and that, in their limited interactions with people, they are typically submissive.”