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J Comp Psychol. 2002 Jun;116(2):189-93.

A new perspective on barking in dogs (Canis familiaris).

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University of California, Davis, USA.


The disparity in bark frequency and context between dogs (Canis familiaris) and wolves (Canis lupus) has led some researchers to conclude that barking in the domestic dog is nonfunctional. This conclusion attributes the differences primarily to genetic variation caused by domestication rather than to the influence of social environment on ontogeny. Other researchers, however, have concluded that vocal usage and response to vocalizations in mammals are strongly guided by social interactions. Closer evaluation of dog vocalizations with respect to social environment reveals developmental factors that lead to both frequent barking and barking in many contexts. Additionally, spectrographic analysis indicates that bark structure varies predictably with context, suggesting that barks can be divided into contextual subtypes and may be a more complex form of communication than given credit.

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