I have a dog who barks often. If he sees a bird, he barks. If someone comes to the door, he barks. If a neighbor walks by… well, you get the idea. There are times when I have no idea why he’s barking; sometimes I think he just likes to hear the sound of his own voice. But I often wonder if he’s barking because he’s happy or sad or bored or anxious. Now, according to Hungarian researchers, I can find out.
Scientists state that they’ve developed a computer program that is able to translate a dog’s woofs based on a bark’s pitch, volume and length, The Telegraph reports. Using complex algorithms, the program will let the user know the dog’s state of mind as well as sex and age, which will eventually be tremendously helpful to veterinarians diagnose their patients.
In the study, which was published in the Animal Cognition journal, the team, made up of members from Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest and the Technical University of Madrid, put eight Mudis (Hungarian sheep dogs) in seven different situations and recorded them bark. They then did an analysis of the 800 recorded barks.
According to The Telegraph, the researchers looked at the length and loudness of the barks as well as other acoustic measurements and then “developed algorithms to translate them.” With these algorithms the sex of the dog was determined accurately 85 percent of the time. They could also determine if the dog was a senior, an adult or a young dog with 80 percent accuracy.
In determining a dog’s state of mind, the research team discovered that if a dog releases a rapid, high-pitched bark, he’s scared. If his bark is slow and high-pitched, he’s lonely. If the dog is anxious, his bark will be fast, harsh and deep. And if the dog is happy? Well, he’ll give a high-pitched, clear bark.
Researchers believe that this will not only help vets in their medical diagnoses, but it will also help in the diagnosis of issues such as distress, fright, aggression and separation anxiety.
This is fantastic news not just for dog parents, but for those looking to adopt a dog, animal shelter staff and veterinarians.