By simply listening to its growl, a dog would be able to identify the size of a congener!

Tamas Farago

Dogs would be able to tell if the congener they hear growling is small or large, depending on its growl. This is what a study by Hungarian researchers reveals.

Grunts are one of the means of communication in dogs . They are one of the audible or verbal elements of his body language , along with barking , moaning, and howling. It is therefore an important mode of expression for our 4-legged friends, and the understanding of which is fundamental to improving the master / dog relationship . The canines themselves are extremely attentive and sensitive to the grunts emitted by their congeners, because they provide them with multiple information according to which they will react. One of them is the size of the “growling” animal, as shown in a study published in late 2010, reports the journal Science .

It is the work of Péter Pongrácz , ethologist at Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary, and his team. In previous work, they had proven that dogs emit a specific growl when protecting a bone in the presence of an animal that covets it. In most cases, this signal is enough to cause the pretender to the bone to stop and give it up.

This time around, Professor Pongrácz and his colleagues tested the dogs’ reactions to images and hearing recorded growls. To be more comfortable, the animals tested were accompanied by their owners.

Among the 96 canines who took part in the experiment, 24 saw 2 images each showing a dog of different size , projected in front of them on a screen. On the first was a small dog (52 cm), while on the other appears the same dog, but whose photo is enlarged by 30% to make it look bigger . The remaining 72 dogs saw other images, either triangles (large and small) or silhouettes of cats of different sizes.

They found that dogs who heard growls when they were shown pictures of cats or dogs spent more time looking at the pictures than those who saw triangles.

Above all, 20 of the 24 animals for which we had projected the images of a small and a large dog, got it right by focusing their gaze on the corresponding image (big growl = big dog / small growl = small dog).

Read also: An association buys a farm and creates a sanctuary for dogs that nobody wants

Finally, dogs who had been shown a photo of a cat while hearing growls, generally looked to the left . This corroborates other studies suggesting that dogs look to their left side when faced with something new or unexpected .

For Péter Pongrácz , “ A dog that listens [the growls] can determine the size of the other canine exactly, ” and decide whether to go to confrontation or avoid it. </p

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