|Comparing the function of play bows in dingo puppies to dogs and wolf puppies|
|Sarah-Elizabeth Byosiere1, Julia Espinosa2, Bradley P. Smith3. 1La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia; 2University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; 3Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia
Play bows represent a common, highly stereotyped behavior in the genus Canis. In the first study to behaviorally assess any form of play behavior in this species, we looked at the function of play bows in the dingo (Canis dingo). We found that dingo puppies (n = 27 bows; aged three months) utilized bows as a visual signal, consistent with findings observed across dogs and wolf puppies. Play bows did not function to clarify easily misinterpretable behaviors (e.g., bites), as bowers were not more likely to perform offensive behaviors than their partner (p = 0.7) either before and/or after the bow (p = 0.08). Bows did not appear to function to achieve an optimal position in which to better ‘escape’ (p = 0.08) or ‘attack’ (p = 0.04) the play partner. Play bows most often occurred after a brief pause in play followed by complementary highly active play states, but only for the partner (p < 0.01). The function of play bows in the dingo appears consistent with those observed in dogs and wolf pups, however, subtle interspecific differences are apparent. These differences require further investigation in the genus Canis, as well as the Family Canidae more broadly.