Barking News: Your Dog is Smarter Than You Think
A team of scientists from Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest wanted to see just what was behind all our furry friends’ noisemaking, so they put some suburban dogs to the test using a hidden sound system placed near a gate outside each dog’s home.
The sound system played pre-recorded barks by two separate dogs — one dog familiar to the pooch in question and one unfamiliar dog. Researchers also played two types of barks from each pre-recorded pup: one where the dog was barking at a stranger through the fence and one where the dog was left alone.
The suburban dogs all acted differently depending on how familiar they were with the pre-recorded barking dog. The dogs stuck by the gate (where the sound was loudest) when they heard a dog they didn’t know barking at a stranger. When they heard an unfamiliar dog doing a “lonely” bark, they stayed closest to the house. They also opted to stay near the house when they heard a familiar dog barking, regardless of the type of bark.
Turns out our noble companions can not only distinguish who is barking (friend, foe or stranger) but they can also decode the messages hidden in those barks. Who’s the smarty pants now, kitty?
So, which type of bark caused the biggest stir? As you can probably imagine, the “stranger” barks got the greatest rise out of the pooches in this study, whether the bark came from a familiar dog or not.
The bottom line is this: Man’s Best Friend is always on guard and ready to protect his or her humans, and won’t hesitate to confront a stranger who encroaches on their domain. But you probably already knew that, didn’t you?
Christina Peden is a lifelong animal lover and avid wordsmith. She lives in Toronto with her boyfriend Ryan where they are proud pet parents to puppy, Matilda and cat, Oscar. In her spare time, she can be found enjoying Toronto, Canada's all-too-short patio season, taking advantage of the city's numerous parks or curled up with a good book.
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