A preliminary study conducted by Oxford University and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences has discovered that a group of dogs will develop a social network based on each animal’s personality.
The study made use of GPS to track the canines’ movements and interactions throughout 14 off-lead dog walks in Budapest. The behaviour was then analysed to discover whether domestic dogs are capable of developing complex social hierarchies seen in their wolf ancestors.
Having measured a number of patterns in the dogs’ interactions, zoologist Mate Nagy and his team found that the dogs’ behaviour correlated with that of a social network, with certain individuals emerging as pack leaders and influencing the paths taken by the group.
The dogs’ owner also believes that the patterns may be related to each dog’s individual personality. Having filled out a questionnaire, Hedvig Balazs’ answers suggested that the dog that scored as most dominant was also most likely to influence the other dogs on the walk.
Although the study is in its early days, the researchers believe that the final results could shed light on some of the lesser explained aspects of dog social behaviour.