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Social Roles and Relationships in Dogs
CAAB Chat about friendship, jealousy, grief, and bullying

CAAB Chats are a new program featuring monthly discussions among CAABs (Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists) about topics that matter to people who love animals. This month’s CAAB Chat is about Social Roles and Relationships in Dogs, and will involve a conversation about friendship, grief, jealousy, status, bullying, gratitude, and more. Anyone can register to listen in to the live chat (which is this Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 2 p.m. Mountain Standard Time) free of charge, and replays are available for a fee.

I have listened to the previous CAAB Chats on Canine Communication and Response Prevention and really enjoyed them. This month I’m excited to be one of the CAABs doing the chatting, along with my friend and colleague Camille Ward, PhD. CAABs Suzanne Hetts, PhD and Dan Estep, PhD will be moderating the discussion, and we are all excited about the topic and discussing it with one another. We hope that everyone who signs up to be a part of it will feel like they are listening in as we candidly discuss topics that matter to us, just as we would at a conference or even over a cup of coffee (or other beverage of choice.)

There are so many questions about social roles and relationships in dogs, and this list is just a few of the ones we find particularly interesting and hope to hit on.

How do friendships develop among dogs?

Do dogs have preferences for their play partners? What contributes to those preferences?

How do relationships among dogs, and between dogs and people go wrong?

Why do we seem to have so many dogs who assume a “bullying” role with other dogs?

How are the relationships dogs form with each other similar to those they form with people?  How are they different?

Can dogs feel gratitude?

What do dogs experience when another dog they’ve lived with dies?  Do they feel grief?

Since the discussion is informal by design, there’s no telling exactly where it will lead, and that’s part of the fun. Additionally, those listening in are asked to submit questions they’d like to see addressed, and those will surely lead to interesting parts of the conversation.

CAABs all have a scientific and research background and many of us have worked with animals with serious behavior problems. We spend an inordinate amount of time thinking, reading and talking about animal behavior (not to mention a lot of time with animals themselves!) We love chatting about our work, which is a labor of love for all of us, and this week’s CAAB Chat is just one more opportunity to do so. We hope you will join us!

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Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

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