Cookie use on MRCVSonline
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies.
If you would like to forward this story on to a friend, simply fill in the form below and click send.

Your friend's email:
Your email:
Your name:
 
 
Send Cancel

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.”

Become a member or log in to add this story to your CPD history

Survey seeks to learn about racehorse aftercare

News Story 1
 The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) is launching a survey to improve understanding of aftercare for thoroughbreds. The survey has been emailed to trainers, who are asked to share their own experiences, with a focus on life after horses finish their racing careers. It forms part of an equine health and welfare strategy being developed by the BHA. 

News Shorts
Charity welcomes new ambassadors

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home has appointed the actor Anthony Head and renowned canine behaviourist, Sarah Fisher, as official ambassadors. They join existing ambassadors Paul O’Grady, Amanda Holden, David Gandy and Jacqueline Wilson.

Anthony is best known for his roles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Iron Lady and Girlfriends. He has previously lent his voice to Battersea’s videos and appeals, as well as performing readings at the charity’s Christmas Carol Concert and Collars & Coats Gala Ball.

Meanwhile Sarah has worked across all three of the charity’s centres, offering advice in dealing with a variety of complex and challenging dogs. She has also fostered several Battersea animals and trained many members of staff in using the Tellington Touch method of training, to keep dogs calm and relaxed.