Dogs Naturally Imitate One Another

By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Allelomimetic behavior in canines is an imitative behavior. It is essentially “mirroring” and a type of mimicking of posture, stance, behavior or movement of other animals in a close group. This mirroring behavior can be exhibited in dogs at any stage of life and can begin in puppyhood as young as 5 weeks old. This is an important factor in early learning.

Allelomimesis is a natural social behavior found inherently in social animals, especially canines, who are pack animals with a high social order and structure. It is an instinctual inclination hardwired in social animals to follow and mimic others in the social group. It is also known as group-coordinated behavior. This mirroring behavior is commonly seen when multiple dogs live together. For example, a dog will howl or bark when he/she hears another dog or dogs barking without knowing the specific source or reason.

Social facilitation is closely related to but different from allelomimetic behavior. It refers to behaviors performed in a group of dogs, where the presence of another dog causes an increase in the intensity or strengthening of the behavior. For example, a dog may run faster, bark louder or jump higher due to the presence of another in the same activity.

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