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Human and dogunderstanding of dog barksCsaba Molnár, Péter Pongrácz, Antal Dóka, Ádám MiklósiDepartment of EthologyEötvös ...
Bark as a communicative signal   the main difference between the vocal repertoires of    dogs and wild canids is the freq...
Human understanding of bark   humans can associate the barks with appropriate    emotional contents   they have the abil...
Emotional scores given by listeners           Stranger             4            3    Play              Fight   aggressiven...
   the way humans describe the emotions in barks    parallels motivational-structural rules of animal    acoustics       ...
A playback study with dogs   the habituation-discrimination paradigm      phase 1: the same stimulus three times (habitu...
The scheme of the paradigm                stimuli ‘A’        stimulus ‘B’                     habituation   dishabituation...
Questions   Experiment 1: Are dogs able to discriminate between    barks recorded in two different contexts?   Experimen...
Method   Subjects: family dogs, N=90    (test groups: N1,2=30; control group:    N=30)   Stimuli:     barks at a strang...
Experimental room layout                       computer, recorder, monitor                                   microphone   ...
Experimental room layout
Results 1: Discrimination between contexts                      12                                                        ...
Results 2: Discrimination between individuals                                                                         NS  ...
Conclusion   Dogs are able to discriminate between barks    recorded in different contexts   They are also able to disti...
Suggested research directions   Are dogs able to discriminate between barks    of familiar and unfamiliar individuals?  ...
Acknowledgements   The authors are thankful to     the members of Hungarian Mudi Club for      their assistance to the s...
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Human and dog understanding of dog barks

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An acoustic signal may simultaneously provide information about the caller's species, sex, age, motivational state, dominance status, group membership, identity, and the social context. Several studies showed that nonhuman primate and other species were able to distinguish between individuals and contexts by only hearing vocalizations. We explored this phenomenon in family dogs. In the last decades only a few studies focused on the acoustic communication of dogs. Recently we showed that humans are able to categorize the barks into contexts and describe the emotional content. We found that humans with different levels of experience with dogs showed similar trends in experiments. On the other hand human listeners were not able to discriminate between individuals on the basis of their calls. In this present study we conducted play-back experiments to family dogs according to the habituation-discrimination paradigm. We investigated if dogs could discriminate between barks recorded from different individuals or in different contexts. Our results showed that dogs had this ability: subjects oriented more toward the speakers while a novel stimulus (bark recorded from another individual or in the other situation) was being played back to them. These and other findings suggest that bark may play a role in dog-dog and human-dog communication.

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Human and dog understanding of dog barks

  1. 1. Human and dogunderstanding of dog barksCsaba Molnár, Péter Pongrácz, Antal Dóka, Ádám MiklósiDepartment of EthologyEötvös Loránd Universitymolcsa@gmail.comISAE 2006 Celle
  2. 2. Bark as a communicative signal the main difference between the vocal repertoires of dogs and wild canids is the frequency of occurrence of bark (Feddersen-Petersen 2000) only a few studies focused on the acoustic communication of dogs (e. g. Fox & Cohen 1976) assumed that as a result of domestication barking has lost its role in communication (e. g. Tembrock 1976) bark is characterized by a few context- (motivational state) specific acoustic parameters (Yin 2002)
  3. 3. Human understanding of bark humans can associate the barks with appropriate emotional contents they have the ability to categorize barks into various contexts people with different dog experience levels showed similar trends (Pongrácz et al 2005) congenitally blind people performed similarly as sighted people (Molnár et al 2006a in prep)
  4. 4. Emotional scores given by listeners Stranger 4 3 Play Fight aggressiveness 2 fear despair 1 playfulness happiness Ball Walk Non-owners Alone Pongrácz et al. 2005
  5. 5.  the way humans describe the emotions in barks parallels motivational-structural rules of animal acoustics (Morton 1977, Pongrácz et al 2006 in press) humans showed only modest accuracy in discriminating between individuals of dogs by only hearing their barks (Molnár et al 2006b in press) a computerized algorithm for categorizing barks seems to perform better than humans (Molnár et al 2006c in prep)
  6. 6. A playback study with dogs the habituation-discrimination paradigm  phase 1: the same stimulus three times (habituation)  expected change: the behavioural response declines  phase 2: a ‘new’ stimulus (dishabituation)  expected change: if the subject discriminates between the new and previous stimuli then response increases References: Janik, Rey 2002 (dolphin), Masataka 1985 (Japanese monkey), Hauser 1998 (Rhesus), Zuberbühler 2002 (Diana monkey)
  7. 7. The scheme of the paradigm stimuli ‘A’ stimulus ‘B’ habituation dishabituationmagnitudeResponse time 1 2 3 4 trials
  8. 8. Questions Experiment 1: Are dogs able to discriminate between barks recorded in two different contexts? Experiment 2: Are dogs able to discriminate between the same barks if recorded from two different individuals?
  9. 9. Method Subjects: family dogs, N=90 (test groups: N1,2=30; control group: N=30) Stimuli:  barks at a stranger intruding the garden  barks while leashed to a tree and left alone (all barks recorded from Mudis) duration of orientation toward the speaker owner is present during the experiment Stranger Alone
  10. 10. Experimental room layout computer, recorder, monitor microphone owner and dog camera camera camera and speaker
  11. 11. Experimental room layout
  12. 12. Results 1: Discrimination between contexts 12 * 10 orientation time (s) ± SE 8 6 NS NS 4 ** 2 NS 0 *** 1 2 3 4 stimuli control (4th stimulus is the same), N=30 test (4th stimulus is different), N=30RM ANOVAs (Molnár et al 2006d in prep)
  13. 13. Results 2: Discrimination between individuals NS 10 9 orientation time (s) ± SE 8 7 6 NS 5 *** NS 4 NS 3 2 1 0 *** 1 2 3 4 stimuli control (4th stimulus is the same), N=30 test (4th stimulus is different), N=30RM ANOVAs (Molnár et al 2006d in prep)
  14. 14. Conclusion Dogs are able to discriminate between barks recorded in different contexts They are also able to distinguish between barks of different individuals Their performances are not influenced by the contexts of the habituation stimuli
  15. 15. Suggested research directions Are dogs able to discriminate between barks of familiar and unfamiliar individuals? Can they distinguish the barks of different dog breeds? Is it possible to teach dogs to recognize barks?
  16. 16. Acknowledgements The authors are thankful to  the members of Hungarian Mudi Club for their assistance to the sound recordings  Claudia DeRosa and other members of research staff at Department of Ethology for their help in recruiting subjects This study was funded by the grants of the Hungarian Ministry of Education: FKFP No. 127/2001, and Hungarian NSF No. T047235

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