British student to investigate dogs' barks
Mar 31, 2006, 12:32
A British postgraduate student of psychology is planning to record the barks and growls of hundreds of dogs as part of a project into how canines communicate.
Anna Taylor, 23, of Brighton in southern England, is looking for about 300 noisy canine volunteers of all shapes and sizes to take part in the study, it was reported Thursday.
'We use all type of techniques to get the dogs to bark and growl including banging on doors and windows, playing with them and isolating them in a room.'
Dog growls are made up of sound components called formants, Taylor explained, which are believed to give information about the dog making the sound, including body size, sexual aggressiveness or weight.
The information collected should allow her to discover whether there is a link between the formant produced and the size and type of each dog, and whether this information is available to human and canine listeners.
Evolutionary theory suggests that the evolutionary history of humans and dogs is inextricably linked, and it may be that domestic dogs vocalise primarily for their human companions.
'It would be interesting to test this theory, for example, by modifying the recordings then playing them back to humans and other dogs to see how they respond, hopefully showing which acoustic notes are important for which species', said Taylor.
'Owners like to think they know what their dog is saying when it barks. Hopefully, this research will help to reveal scientifically what man's best friend is really communicating.'
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