Data from: Selfish pups: weaning conflict and milk theft in free-ranging dogs
Paul, Manabi; Bhadra, Anindita (2018), Data from: Selfish pups: weaning conflict and milk theft in free-ranging dogs, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.d15b0
Parent-offspring conflict theory predicts the emergence of weaning conflict between a mother and her offspring arising from skewed relatedness benefits. Empirical observations of weaning conflict have not been carried out in canids. In a field-based study on free-ranging dogs we observed that nursing/suckling bout durations decrease, proportion of mother-initiated nursing bouts decrease and mother-initiated nursing/suckling terminations increase with pup age. We identified the 7th - 13th week period of pup age as the zone of conflict between the mother and her pups, beyond which suckling solicitations cease, and before which suckling refusals are few. We also report for the first time milk theft by pups who take advantage of the presence of multiple lactating females, due to the promiscuous mating system of the dogs. This behaviour, though apparently disadvantageous for the mothers, is perhaps adaptive for the dogs in the face of high mortality and competition for resources.