The free-ranging domesticated dogs have lived in close proximity with people in India for centuries. The earliest mention of strays goes back as far as the Mahabharata and the Rig Veda (Debroy 2008). Earlier work on free-ranging dogs is scattered and in-depth understanding of the eco-ethology of the dogs is missing.
Do dogs mate round the year, or is mating a seasonal activity? What is the mating season for dogs? What factors trigger mating related activities in dogs? Do they mate at particular times of the day? Do dogs mate with their kin? Is there mate choice in dogs? What is the role of aggression in the mating of dogs?
Dog mothers can be quite caring, and they often attack people when they feel their pups to be threatened. We have embarked on a long term project to study parental care in the dogs, and some of our recent results are quite fascinating.
What do dogs eat? Do they hunt or are they purely scavengers? How do they get enough protein in their diet? What kind of food do they obtain from humans directly? Do they adjust their group sizes based on resource availability?
We probe into the private lives of dogs using mostly our eyes, some times aided by cameras and binoculars. In the field, we never forget to carry a notebook, a pen and our brains! Our research involves behavioural observations, population level sampling and manipulative experiments. We study dogs in their natural habitat, i.e., on streets, and do not maintain individuals in captivity. Currently we are also not involved in studying dogs in shelters are kennels or pets, but we look forward to doing so in the near future.