Sussex D.phil student Anna Taylor, is currently looking for 300 dogs to participate in her dog vocal communication study. She believes ‘the evolutionary history of humans and dogs (which dates back 12,000 years) is inextricably linked and it may be that dogs vocalise primarily for their human companions’. She will be recording a series of growls and analysing their ‘formants’, which are similar to the vowel sounds that make up human speech.

Apparently, dogs can weigh up each other’s size, weight and sexual aggressiveness purely by listening to their bark, which is vital for survival in this dog -eat-dog world. According to previous studies, ‘meaningless’ barking is usually a behaviour of abnormality, but this is usually not the case and is just a human stereotype of dogs. Anna hopes her research will better the understanding of inter canine and human communication, commenting that, ‘owners like to think they know what their dog is saying when it barks. Hopefully this research will help to significantly reveal what man’s best friend is really communicating’.

This is has recently been brought to light in the case of ‘Armani’, the bull terrier who has become a celebrity in Germany for saying ‘Mama’. His owner Zouleykha Kogan has been swamped with fan mail ever since and comments that, ‘He’s a clever dog who does a lot of tricks but this is the one that has made him famous’. You can watch him in action on www.telegraph.co.uk.

About the author

The Badger

Leave a Reply