Let’s hear what man’s best friend has got to say!

We talk to it when we are lonely. We vent our anger on it. However, we never comprehend its reply. Studies have shown that a dog (referring to domestic dogs in this case), Canis lupus familiaris, has different vocalizations that humans can sometimes distinguish, albeit difficult. Here are three of the more common situations a domestic dog would face and the possible sounds it makes.

“Food Begging” call is the sound made when a dog is requesting for food (Bleicher, 1976). It usually starts of at a high pitch and low volume, then slowly becomes louder and lower pitched if the call lasts for a long period, and has a possibility of ending with a bark (Bleicher, 1976). (An example of Food-Begging: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okZ8tpHvts4)

“Play Invitation” is a call made by dogs during play or are in the midst of playing (Bleicher, 1976). In this phase, dogs tend to whine (although they do bark and growl too). Whining could come in the form of a “nudging whine” where the whine is slightly louder at the start to provide a slight nudge to the other party (Bleicher, 1976). Some dogs adopt the “sloping plaintive whine” (Bleicher, 1976). Dogs also tend to make “non-voiced sounds” such as “forcing air out of nostrils, prancing, and pawing (Bleicher, 1976).” (An example of Play Invitation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78lCCCdF-M8)

Lastly, dogs also make “Resource-Guarding” sounds. They usually come in the form of growls when approaching them with the resource in their sight. However, growls could come in different forms that are very difficult for humans to distinguish (Callaway, 2010). Studies have shown that dogs can distinguish between growls at different occasions (Callaway, 2010). (An example of Resource-Guarding: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJI9QkNlLrc).

Remember that these are usually the behaviours of domestic dogs that have not been trained yet. For example a dog makes “Resource-Guarding” sounds due to it being not confident and worrying that the resource might be stolen (Bielakiewicz and Bielakiewicz, 2004), but this lack of confidence can be conquered via training. Also, to accurately understand a dog, we should take into account other factors such as body language(e.g. tail wagging) and breed.

(299 words)

Welzl Valentin Xin Wei

Group 11


Literature Cited:

Bleicher, N., 1976. The social significance of dog vocalization. UMI Dissertations Publishing, Ann Arbor. pp. 166.


Callaway, E., 2010. Grrr… what’s ‘step away from the bone’ in dog?. New Scientist205(2751):   p.14


Bielakiewicz, G., J. & P. S. Bielakiewicz., 2004. The everything golden retriever book : A complete guide to raising, training, and caring for your golden. Adams Media, pp. 306.


“Maltese Dog Begging For Food,” by Stupidboy80. Stupidboy80’s Youtube Channel. URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okZ8tpHvts4 (accessed on 8 Apr 2013)


“Dog Growls Have Deeper Meaning,” by DiscoveryNetworks. DiscoveryNetworks’ Youtube Channel. URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJI9QkNlLrc (accessed 9 Apr 2013)


“Dog Tarzan loves to play fetch and whine…,” by 86steelersgirl. 86steelersgirl‘s Youtube Channel. URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78lCCCdF-M8 (accessed 9 Apr 2013)


“Dachshunds barking mad,” by YuliaTitovets. URL: http://www.fourlittlepaws.com/tag/dachshund/page/7/ (accessed 17 Apr 2013)