Food-getting Behavior as a Function of Dominance-distance in Four Mongrel Dogs
Food-getting behavior as a positive function of dominance-distance in two female and two male mongrel dogs was assessed in paired-feeding situations. The dominant subject was defined as the subject which gained access first to a food hopper in paired food-getting situations. Six unique pairings of the four subjects were conducted to determine the dominance hierarchy for the group. Each pair was fed in random order three times and each subject was fed alone nine times. Dominance-distance was defined by the formula Si -Sj where i and j referred to ordinal indices denoting a subject's rank in the dominance hierarchy; a dominance-distance of 0 indicated the trials in which a subject was fed alone. The trial sessions were conducted in a cage by delivering one unit (9.2 gms) of food to a small, single-access, feeding tray. The data failed to support the hypothesis that food-getting behavior increases as dominance-distance increases, although a slight trend in the hypothesized direction did emerge. One subject elevated her status from being the most submissive subject to being the second most dominant subject during the trial sessions. Dominance-distance as an important, but little understood, variable was discussed as a possible factor in increased conflict in territorially compressed groups. The method limitations of this project were also discussed.
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