Village dogs at the pacific coast of Mexico: socialization towards humans and human-dog interactions

E. Ruiz Izaguirre, C.H.A.M. Eilers, E.A.M. Bokkers, A. Ortolani, A. Ortega-Pachecho

Research output: Contribution to journalAbstractAcademic


Dogs roam free in Mexican coastal villages adjacent to sea-turtle nesting beaches. Part of the village dog population scavenges sea-turtle eggs like feral dogs do. The objective of this study was to characterize human-dog interactions, including behavior of village dogs toward familiar and unfamiliar humans. La Ticla village has many tourists, and Colola has few tourists and is adjacent to a sea-turtle nesting sanctuary. We interviewed dog caregivers about their dogs, and conducted behavioral tests on 59 dogs inside the family premises of each dog. The dog’s reaction toward a familiar human and the dog’s willingness to approach an unfamiliar human were assessed. Variables were analyzed using the ¿2 test. Most dogs visited more than one household: the main caregiver’s household and neighboring households (N = 40; 68%), and were also fed in these households (N = 17; 28%). Most dogs played with humans (N = 45; 76%). Most dogs (N = 43; 73%) responded to familiar humans by wagging their tail in a friendly way (predominantly horizontal tail position in a relaxed body). More dogs wagged their tail if they were used to playing with humans (N = 51; 86%), than those that were not (N = 8; 14%) (P <0.01). Only 29% (N = 17) of dogs came into such a close distance to the unfamiliar human that they could be touched. More dogs approached closely if they were used to playing with humans (N = 55; 94%) than those that were not (N = 4; 6%) (P <0.05). We conclude that most village dogs socialize with members of at least 2 households, but unwillingness to approach the unfamiliar humans indicates insufficient socialization or unrewarding experiences with unfamiliar humans
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-66
JournalJournal of Veterinary Behavior
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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