Dogs can convey what they want to say to humans with their barks and growls, according to a new study. The study also found that women are better than men at making out what their loyal friend wants to say.
40 participants volunteered for the study in which they were made to listen to different growls recorded from 18 dogs that were guarding their food, facing a threatening stranger, or playing a tug-of-war game.
On an overall basis, participants were correct in classifying 63 per cent of the growl samples - significantly more than would be expected by guesswork alone, they told.
81 per cent of the ‘play’ growls were identified by the listeners but recognizing food guarding and threatening growls was difficult for the volunteers.
The research by Tamas Farago and his team from Eotvos Lorand University in Hungary found that at the time of fun and frolic, dogs produced a larger number of shorter, less separated, growls than when they were furious scared.
Women were better than men at recognising when a dog was being playful or threatening, or feeling fear, researchers said.
Play growls and food guarding growls also had distinctively different pitch characteristics, ‘The Telegraph’ reported.
“Our results indicate that dogs communicate honestly their size and inner state in serious contest situations, where confrontation would be costly, such as during guarding of their food from another dog,” the researchers wrote in the journal Royal Society Open Science.
“At the same time, in contexts with assumedly more uncertain inner states, such as in play or when threatened by a stranger, they may manipulate certain key parameters in their growls for an exaggerated aggressive and playful expression,” they said.
“According to our results, adult humans seem to understand and respond accordingly to this acoustic information during cross-species interactions with dogs,” the researchers concluded.