Petak, I. 2013. Communication patterns within a group of shelter dogs and implications for their welfare. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 16(2), 118-139.
Keeping shelter dogs in groups provides them with a more socially and physically enriched environment, but eventually it may cause them stress. Understanding dogs' communication could help shelter staff recognize and prevent undesirable communicative patterns and encourage desirable ones. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine communication patterns in a group of dogs in a shelter. The observed dogs were engaged in different classes of dyadic and group interactions. Certain dogs were frequently initiators of dyadic interactions, and different dogs were the recipients. The predominant form of dyadic interactions was a neutral one, and aggressive behavior was rarely observed. The tendency of certain dogs to interact continuously may represent a nuisance for less social individuals. All of the dogs participated in 3 defined classes of group interactions. At the group level, the dogs frequently interact vocally or olfactorily. A major welfare problem may be very vocal dogs because their vocalizations are noisy and broadcast far-reaching signals. The frequency of some group interactions was reduced by the amount of time the dogs had in the shelter.