The authors investigated whether human listeners could categorize played-back dog (Canis familiaris) barks recorded in various situations and associate them with emotional ratings. Prerecorded barks of a Hungarian herding dog breed (Mudi) provided the sample. Human listeners were asked to rate emotionality of the vocalization and to categorize the situations on the basis of alternative situations provided on a questionnaire. The authors found almost no effect of previous experience with the given dog breed or of owning a dog. Listeners were able to categorize bark situations high above chance level. Emotionality ratings for particular bark samples correlated with peak and fundamental frequency and interbark intervals. The authors did not find a significant effect of tonality (harmonic-to-noise ratio) on either the emotionality rating or situation categorization of the human listeners. Humans' ability to recognize meaning suggests that barks could serve as an effective means of communication between dog and human.
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