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Humans can understand different dog growls - study
"Dog owners recognised better the context of the growls compared with participants who did not own a dog."

Women and dog owners better at the task 

Humans can decipher a dog’s emotional state by the sound of its growl, according to a new study.

Published in Royal Society Open Science, the study also found that women are more capable of working out the meaning of a dog's growl than men.

In the study, researchers from Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary, played recordings of growls from 18 different dogs. The growls were from dogs guarding food, dogs being threatened by an approaching stranger and dogs playing tug of war.

The researchers asked 40 adults to listen to two sets of the recordings and record their feelings about the first set on a sliding scale. The participants could rate the growls by emotions: aggression, fear, despair, happiness and playfulness.

For the second set of recordings, the researchers asked the participants to choose one of the three possible contexts (food guarding, threatening, play).

The participants correctly classified 63 per cent of the growl samples - significantly more than chance level, the researchers said. Moreover, the participants correct classified 81 per cent of the play growls, yet found it more difficult to recognise food guarding and threatening growls.

The study also found that women and dog owners performed better in the recognition task, while dog bite history of the participants had no effect.

“It is known that women have a higher emotional sensitivity, and probably this higher sensitivity can help to differentiate better context of the growls,” the authors write.

“Additionally we found that, in contrast with the case of dog barks, the individual dog-related experience had a positive effect on the performance of the participants.

“Dog owners recognised better the context of the growls compared with participants who did not own a dog, which is probably due to their extended experiences with dog growls.”

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Endangered turtle born at London Zoo

News Story 1
 An endangered spiny hill turtle has become the first of its kind to hatch at ZSL London Zoo - just in time for World Turtle Day (23 May).

Zookeepers filmed the moment the turtle came out of its shell on a time lapse camera, after keeping a watchful eye on the egg during its 136 day incubation period.

The turtle weighed a tiny 33g at birth and measured just 61mm, although it will eventually grow to around 27cm in size. 

News Shorts
Melissa Donald elected president of BVA Scottish Branch

RCVS Council member Melissa Donald has been elected for a two-year term as president of BVA’s Scottish Branch. She said she was “honoured” to be elected and hopes to provide a strong voice for veterinary surgeons, particularly at a national level. One of her first tasks will be to give evidence to the Scottish government on tail shortening of dogs, before parliament votes on whether to change the current legislation.

Melissa graduated from Glasgow veterinary school and worked as a production animal vet at Iowa State University, USA, for three years, before returning to Ayrshire to work in mixed practice. She then spent 25 years developing a small animal practice with her husband and has been involved with the BVA for many years. Recently, she took the decision to step back from clinical practice and currently runs a smallholding in the Ayrshire Hills.