By Sindhoor Pangal, Bangalore Mirror Bureau | Dec 29, 2015, 04.00 AM IST
This Christmas I gave myself a gift. I finally permitted myself to publish my study. I have been working at it for a year and I am thrilled to present it to you now.
The idea for the study was sparked when my colleagues and I were mulling over the question of how much exercise dogs need. In a style that has become very much a norm among us now, we decided that we needed to do a study. The premise is simple – animals inherently know how much exercise they need. Animals in the wild don’t need to be told how many calories they need to burn. But studying dogs in the wild is pointless because wild dogs are not the same species as our domestic dogs. But our street dogs are in effect free ranging dogs and would be perfect for this study. Thus was born my study – Lives of Streeties.
For this study, I walked for 45 minutes route each day, capturing videos of all the dogs I met along the way. Each day I picked a different hour to ensure I had recorded information about dogs throughout the day. I did this in the wee hours of the morning, the blistering noon and at night too. My husband graciously accompanied me during the night shifts. Working thus, I gathered more than 400 videos.
But even with 400 videos, patterns emerged. The first big takeaway for me was that dogs love one activity more than any other. In fact, it’s just one activity that occupies 40 per cent of their activity profile. And there are close to 15 different activities that I identified they are engaged in. But just one takes the biggest amount of their time – sleeping. Dogs love to snooze. So don’t worry if your dog spends most of his day sleeping. He is designed to do just that. Even when dogs are awake, they don’t do much. To understand this, I looked at the number of dogs that were actually on their feet and the inactive dogs that were not even on their feet. Sixty per cent of the activity profile belongs to inactive dogs. They are either sleeping or just watching the world go by. Only 40 per cent of the dogs were on their feet. But not necessarily moving. And just about 25 per cent of the dogs were actually moving. That included them walking, trotting, foraging, pooping, peeing, begging, etc.
I then wanted to see if this behaviour changed across the day. And as expected, it did. We all know this anecdotally. But I was able to assign numbers to it. The dogs do get more active after night fall and the early hours of the morning. It’s not that all the dogs were active at night. It’s not even that some dogs are active for all of the night. But overall, there is a slight, but distinctive increase in activity during night. Now that could have to do with the fact that it’s the night, or due to lower temperature or lower vehicular and people traffic. I have not been able to establish the real reason and I suspect that it’s a combination of all three.
The study was very revealing to me. But this is just the start. I still need to triple the data to get to the logical conclusion of this study. And I hope it leads to more such studies. You can find my study online by looking up Lives of Streeties. I hope you liked this little gift of mine as much as I liked bringing it to you.
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