Theoretical framework: Animals struggle to adapt to fast changing environments (e.g. subjected to human influence). Learning from conspecifics can be one of the least expensive mechanisms allowing animals to adapt to such changes. But information provided by others can also be misleading, so animals employ specific strategies to decide when, what, and from whom to learn depending on the context. Free-ranging dogs live in a varied and fast-changing environment and are characterized by a complex social structure, thus providing a perfect model to investigate the environmental factors and social dynamics affecting the use of social learning.Hypotheses: Based on current evidence of pet dogs’ social learning abilities, we hypothesize that overall free-ranging dogs will flexibly employ social learning to adapt to their local circumstances. More specifically, when presented with a series of novel foraging tasks: 1) dogs will learn socially from more knowledgeable individuals within the group; 2) this will result in the diffusion of the novel behavior; 3) the pattern of the diffusion will be dependent on the bonds between individuals; 4) puppies as well as 5) dispersing adults will acquire information from conspecifics when joining a new group. Moreover, 6) social learning will be used flexibly and it will be affected by the complexity of the task.Methods: We will combine observations and field experiments. We will test free-ranging dogs in open diffusion experiments where a novel behavior will be seeded in a group. We will use three different tasks, varying according to the complexity of the task. To distinguish between the use of individual and social learning, we will apply the latest statistical methods incorporating measures of dogs’ social dynamics. We will also investigate if dogs adopt the behavioral strategy preferred by other individuals, by testing puppies joining a group after weaning, as well as migrating adults.Innovation: This will be the first project investigating social learning in free-ranging dogs, where measures of environmental variability and dogs’ social dynamics can be included. Due to the unique foraging style of free-ranging dogs, we can explore the use of social learning across different foraging tasks, which will fill a fundamental gap in the field of social learning.Researchers involved: The cooperation between the PI (Dr. Cimarelli, expert in canine behavior and social dynamics) and the co-authors (Assoc.Prof. Friederike Range & Priv.Doz. Marshall-Pescini, cognition and social learning specialists) will allow to address fundamental questions relating to the socio-ecological determinants of social learning as well as provide a broad theoretical and practical perspective to the students involved.