Posted on Sunday, March 9th, 2014
We’ve all heard it, probably a billion or two times: a dog’s bark. In fact, we know it so well that some of us are pretty sure we can decipher what different kinds of barks mean. That loud, throaty one means “Look over here!” while the howling, mournful one means either “Come back!” or “Why aren’t you paying attention to me?” Meanwhile, a sharp, quick yelp is a sign of discomfort or pain, and any barking accompanied by impatient paws stepping back and forth probably means, “Let’s go outside!”
The fact of the matter is, no one on the planet can actually speak “Dog.” But we do tend to have a good idea as to what our pets need or want. The PBS educational program NOVA even has a quick test up on its site. The program points out that Hungarian researchers have found that humans tend to categorize various dog barks and even discern emotional context. The NOVA team also poses the question, what does this mean about the evolution of dogs?
Tech and science magazine Wired has some interesting insight here. The source points out one very intriguing fact: Wild dogs and wolves will yip, squeal or whine but hardly ever bark. Meanwhile, dogs can go at that percussive sound for what may (to some neighbors in the early morning hours) feel like ages! According to Hungarian researcher Csaba Molnar, it’s not due to any anatomical differences between wild or domestic dogs, so the link likely lies in the fact that domestic dogs have spent the past 50,000 years hanging out with humans, creating a genetic habit nurtured to fit their shared environment.
The source points to Molnar’s admission that evolution over that brief of a period is tough to pin down, but if that guess happens to be right, it means two very important things. First, that barks are intended to convey information, and second, that humans have the tools to decipher this.
It may sound somewhat obvious. As we’ve already established, most dog owners feel as though they know exactly what their pets are saying! But from an evolutionary point of view, it’s a pretty incredible development! There are numerous more complications and exciting revelations in Molnar’s studies, which he’s devoted his career to, so be sure to check them out!
This content is provided by the pet experts at Hartz.