Is a Growl a Growl Still a Growl?


Is there hidden meaning in your dog’s growls? In the April issue of Animal Behaviour, scientists report on dog what dogs are trying to say, including an experiment in which they put a pooch in a room with a juicy bone.
As the animal approaches the bone, the researchers play a recording of
a dog growling to guard food from a stranger.

By the way, turn up the volume on your computer – play the recording to your dog – and comment here about what happens.

However, if the researchers
instead play a recording of a dog growling at a stranger, which sounds very similar to the human ear–the experimental dog is
usually not convinced to beg off the bone.

The researchers say this may show
that dog growls actually convey

Whether or not animals can communicate their feelings, pretty much bordering on language, is a hot topic in
animal cognition circles. Some monkeys pretty much do have a vocabulary, at least specifying the type of prey
they’ve spotted through their alarm calls. A few bird species can do the same thing. Elephants communicate so much, we have no clue what they’re saying.

Personally, I believe lots of animals do have language – maybe not the same definition as we describe language….but may it is the same – if they have some syntax and express personal feelings, isn’t that language?