Skip to comments.Why Do Dogs Bark? It's Still Mostly a Mystery.
Posted on 04/24/2014 4:35:17 PM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
Whether a woof, ruff, yip, or yap, dogs bark dozens, if not hundreds, of times each day. Imagine if every pet canine in the U.S. -- all 83.3 million of them -- congregated. The chorus would be a postal worker's nightmare.
Dogs sound off in almost any situation. Maybe the doorbell rang, or a stranger approached, or a bird fluttered nearby. Even with little to no obvious stimulation, dogs can bark incessantly. Behaviorist and biologist Raymond Coppinger once observed a dog that barked for seven hours straight, even though no other canines were within miles.
Because dogs bark repetitively and in varying contexts, for decades, a hefty chunk of scientists argued that these sounds served no specific purpose. Coppinger, for example, put forth the notion that barking relieves arousal, and merely indicates an emotional state. At the turn of the century, however, these views started to evaporate. A key clue came in 2002. UC-Davis animal scientist Sophia Yin recorded the barks of different breeds of dogs at play, when the doorbell rang, or in isolation. She found that bark frequency and duration differed significantly between the situations.
"The fact that barks were context specific... strongly suggests that barks serve specific functions," she reasoned.
For all the barking the dogs do, their closest relatives, wolves, rarely bark at all. As little as 2.3% of their vocalizations are barks; the rest are almost entirely howls. Moreover, wolves bark only in warning, defense, and protest. Even though 30,000 years of evolution separate the two species, many breeds of dogs look quite similar to their lupine cousins. But the sounds they make are easily discernible.
Taking note of this contrast, Hungarian ethologist Csaba Molnar forayed into the barking discussion, postulating that the bark came to prominence through the process of domestication, in essence, as a way to communicate with humans.
In 2005, Molnar presented evidence to back his assertion. Molnar had 36 subjects listen to a variety of barks from a breed called mudis. The barks were recorded during different situations: when the mudis encountered a stranger, acted aggressively, were prompted to go on a walk, begged for a ball, played, or were left alone. Regardless of whether or not the subjects were dog owners, they were able to guess the situations in which the barks were recorded at levels significantly higher than chance when presented with the choices.
Further evidence backing Molnar's theory came courtesy of Dmitry Belyaev's domestication experiments on silver foxes. For years, researchers selected the most docile foxes that showed the least fear of humans and bred them. Over the generations, the foxes began to sport characteristics like spotted coats, floppy ears, and curled tails. They also began barking a lot more, specifically when they saw people!
It might be presumptuous to think that barking evolved on our account, but right now, it's the most plausible explanation we have!
I don’t think any dog breed barks more than a dachshund.
The same reason they lick their you-know-whats.......Because they can!
“the OWNER that is undisciplined”
Quite often, but not always, the animal is a mirror of the owner. yes, undisxciplined owner, undisciplined dog.
When I go shoeing, if the dogs are yapping and acting like idiots, the horses will almost always be bad, and the kids will be running wild as well.
I remember being in a barn where one of the girls that worked there was complaining about guys taking advantage of her. It was interesting, because the horses took advantage too, though not in the same way.
“Speak softly and carry a big stick!”
Dog on the left...Moochelle, is that you?
I think mine do it to annoy me, along with the low grade whining.
For humans, tribal warfare is the special evolutionary pressure that selects for gradually increasing advanced intelligence. Tribes with dogs that alert of impending raids have a competitive advantage over tribes without. The primary function of the domesticated dog is to hear, see, or smell approaching thugs, government or freelance, then bark their head off. Since the Waco fiasco, SWAT teams now use silencers for the sole purpose of killing the dogs at the start their raids without blowing their cover. Police hate dogs.
2 words: American Eskimo. They *specialize* in barking. and barking. AND barking.
Although we have a little Boston/ Chiweenie (too) who gives them a run for their money. (heh. Literally- as in “Oh crap, RUN!”)
“I had a male Golden Retriever, 110lbs with no fat.This guy barked, literally, maybe 3 or 4 times in his life.”
Same with mine. He is only 75 pounds though. The only time he barks is when he hears an owl. I have birds all over the place, nothing. An owl and he goes nuts.
Maybe the barking of the dog acted as a homing sound for primitive man hunting far from home. By walking toward the barking he could find his way back.
Your dog knows when you are home. So he acts as a sentinel alerting you to the sound of someone’s arrival...for good or bad you can be ready.
The reason dogs bark is because they are and want to remain the friend of humanity....perhaps our best animal friend. Dog behavior has been rewarded with friendship by humans for thousands of years.
"any dog can be very apprehensive or even surly and overly possessive around strangers or other dogs; and, generally, the Chesapeake tends to exhibit these traits more than the Lab. "
My dog hates red lights on the way to the river.
I'm going out on a limb here, Alec, but does it have something to do with communication?
When my cats meow, I know exactly what they are saying.
Catz is the problem here also.