Author(s): Lord K, Feinstein M, Coppinger R
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Abstract Barking is most often associated with the domestic dog Canis familiaris, but it is a common mammalian and avian vocalization. Like any vocalization, the acoustic character of the bark is likely to be a product of adaptation as well as an expression of the signaler's internal motivational state. While most authors recognize that the bark is a distinct signal type, no consistent description of its acoustic definition or function is apparent. The bark exhibits considerable variability in its acoustic form and occurs in a wide range of behavioral contexts, particularly in dogs. This has led some authors to suggest that dog barking might be a form of referential signaling, or an adaptation for heightened capability to communicate with humans. In this paper we propose a general 'canonical' acoustic description of the bark. Surveying relevant literature on dogs, wild canids, other mammals and birds, we explore an alternative functional hypothesis, first suggested by [Morton, E.S., 1977. On the occurrence and significance of motivation-structural rules in some bird and mammal sounds. Am. Nat. 111, 855-869] and consistent with his motivational-structural rules theory: that barking in many animals, including the domestic dog, is associated with mobbing behavior and the motivational states that accompany mobbing.
This article was published in Behav Processes
and referenced in Review of Public Administration and Management