You Had Me at “Woof”

March 16th, 2011 by admin

You Had Me at “Woof”

Dogs bark for all kinds of reasons, they are hungry, they’re scared, they want attention, they want to warn the family, or they’ve been commanded to do so. But few people stop to consider the science behind barking, or why dogs bark to begin with. It’s well known that dogs are closely related to wolves, yet wolves do not bark unless they are threatened or as an alarm for other wolves. So why do domesticated dogs bark more frequently? It’s possible that earlier humans chose to domesticate dogs that bark to serve as an early warning for a group. As a result, dogs that were predisposed to barking would have been more likely to be domesticated. Also some believe that domesticated dogs are in a constant state of “doggie adolescence” and therefore bark more frequently because of their lack of maturity.

Dogs are not the only animals that bark…foxes, monkeys, sea lions and even deer have all been known to use barking as a warning call. Around the world different words are used to signify the sound of barking. In English the word “woof” is most commonly used for barking, but in Bali it would be “kong kong”. In Ireland dogs say “amh amh”, while in Albania it’s “ham ham”. South Korea dogs say “meong meong”, which to us might sound more like the sound a cat would make!

There are many methods to quiet a dog’s barking, such counter conditioning and special collars. Certain drugs can also quiet a dog, although they can also have the side effect of making the dog sluggish. Some owners resort to surgery in the form of a chordectomy, although this will not silence the dog completely. If you can’t stand the loud barking of your dog, be thankful that you are not the owner of Daz, a white German Shepherd with a recorded bark of 108 decibels!

Interested in learning more about the biology of “man’s best friend”? Consider a career as a veterinary technician. At vet technician school students learn about the biology and anatomy of many animals, including cats and dogs. Upon graduation from vet tech school students can work in veterinary clinics, where they’ll come in daily contact with dogs, cats, and many other pets as well.

Infographic from: Dog The Blog

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