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Behav Processes. 2009 Jul;81(3):358-68. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2009.04.008.

Barking and mobbing.

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  • 1University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA. klord3@mac.com

Abstract

Barking is most often associated with the domestic dog Canis familiaris, but it is a common mammalian and avian vocalization. Like any vocalization, the acoustic character of the bark is likely to be a product of adaptation as well as an expression of the signaler's internal motivational state. While most authors recognize that the bark is a distinct signal type, no consistent description of its acoustic definition or function is apparent. The bark exhibits considerable variability in its acoustic form and occurs in a wide range of behavioral contexts, particularly in dogs. This has led some authors to suggest that dog barking might be a form of referential signaling, or an adaptation for heightened capability to communicate with humans. In this paper we propose a general 'canonical' acoustic description of the bark. Surveying relevant literature on dogs, wild canids, other mammals and birds, we explore an alternative functional hypothesis, first suggested by [Morton, E.S., 1977. On the occurrence and significance of motivation-structural rules in some bird and mammal sounds. Am. Nat. 111, 855-869] and consistent with his motivational-structural rules theory: that barking in many animals, including the domestic dog, is associated with mobbing behavior and the motivational states that accompany mobbing.

PMID:
19520235
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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