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Using a Bark to Welcome or Warn Other Animals

In 1977, biologist and animal communications expert, Dr. Eugene S. Morton published two articles in which he put forward an interesting theory about communication, that is, mutual communication. The essence of the theory was that mammals and birds will use the same rules of communication by sending out sound signals. Morton believed that high-pitched sounds, called shrilling, would signal to an approaching animal that they are indeed a friend or perhaps a weaker individual and mean no harm or threat to them. In contrast, low sounds would signal aggressive intentions towards the approaching stranger.

For the main argument, Morton cited the fact that animals and people are able to estimate the size of the enemy by his voice: large individuals produce sounds of lower frequencies than individuals with smaller body size. Based on the study of several unrelated species, Morton suggested that these rules are universal. His articles have now been universally recognized in the scientific community and animal communication researchers have begun to rely his findings.

Barking is a process that is closely associated with emotion and excitement. It has been repeatedly shown that acoustic parameters of these sounds may vary depending on the situation and the motivations. It is proved that the person evaluates the barking in accordance with the rules of Morton: low and rough barking is perceived as aggressive while barking at high frequencies is perceived as fear and despair.

The intervals between separate sounds are important, too: short intervals stain the barking with aggression, long ones sounded as notes of fear and despair or play and joy; a combination of high frequencies and long intervals is described as despair, happiness, or the game (which of three options one may hear depend entirely on the tone of the barking).

Rob Mueller and Roxie Al Skender is a Raw Diet Educator for BARF World Inc. He’s a self-proclaimed expert on the German Shepherd breed, owning several of them throughout his life. He enjoys being outdoors and prefers it to being stuck in front of the television, unless The Office or CSI is on. For more articles like these and to learn more about the benefits of raw food for your pets, sign up for The Intelligent Pet monthly e-zine at barfworld.com/ezine

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