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Authors

  • Con Slobodchikoff, Ph.D.
    Slobodchikoff is President and CEO of Animal Communications, Ltd., specializing in pet behavior problems and in educating people about the behavior of animals.
  • Karen London, Ph.D.
    London is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Pet Dog Trainer who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavioral problems in the domestic dog.

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June 23, 2010

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Randall Johnson

Although I haven't read the source articles, I strongly disagree with the the conclusion of the Lord paper that dog barks are essentially meaningless beyond registering "excitement or general arousal". (And I'm surprised that Ray Coppinger endorses such a view!)
The communication systems of all social animals convey meaning out of sheer necessity. Admittedly, much of it is hard-wired or genetically ingrained, but research also shows that in many instances, learning is also involved, which allows room for individual expression.
Dr. Michael W. Fox, a bioethicist with the Humane Society of the United States, who has conducted studies of dog and wild canid vocalizations, said free-ranging dogs he had studied on a wildlife preserve in southern India had separate barks for elephants, humans, monkeys, other dogs and strange cats. Dr. Dorit Feddersen-Petersen, at Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel, Germany, agrees that dogs were capable of such feats and more. "Dogs call individual dogs with individual barks," she said. "There are many interesting facts `sleeping' in our dogs' vocalizations."
(The above comments are from an article published in the New York Times on April 21, 2001.)
As I see it, the Lord paper ignores research that has been going on for at least the past nine years. The Molnar and Yin papers are much more persuasive, having been based on experimental data, as opposed to drawing conclusions based on a study of the acoustical characteristics of dog barks.

Con Slobodchikoff

Thanks, CW!

May you too live long and prosper!

Con Slobodchikoff

cw

Dr. Slobodchikoff,

I'm sorry this isn't about your blog entry, but I just wanted to say that you rock and I still remember your class (and your prairie dog research).

I was just a secondary English education major taking "animal behavior" for my liberal studies requirement, and while I've always loved biology/science, I was still a little worried that the content might be over my head.

But, your passion and expertise made it one of the best classes that I've ever taken. Thank you so much for just being you and sharing that with us. =D

I hope that you are well, fighting the good fight to keep prairie dogs safe from people who needlessly shoot/poison them and I hope that you are still finding out all kinds of fascinating stuff from your research.

The world needs more profs like you! Live long and prosper/peace and long life, Dr. S! ~A former student

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