Science Proves That Your Dog Can Talk To You... Sort Of

*Insert "Barking mad" joke

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For those of you who do that weird thing where you kneel down and talk to your dog in a baby voice and then pretend that it's actually replying to you (it's not, it's a dog), then vindication may finally have arrived, as a new study has revealed that your dog actually can communicate with you... sort of.

Published in the journal of Royal Society Open Science, Dr Tamas Farago and his team from Eotvos Lorand University in Hungary had Forty volunteers listen to growls recorded from 18 dogs in different emotional scenarios, ranging from guarding their food, facing a threatening stranger, or playing a tug-of-war game.

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Overall, participants correctly predicted the context of 63 per cent of the different growls - significantly more than would be expected by guesswork alone, with women proving more astute than men at understanding the inner turmoil and joy of the canine mind.

It was found that when playing, dogs produced a larger number of shorter, less separated, growls than when aggressive or fearful.

Growls during play and food-guarding also had distinctively different pitches.

Context had a "significant effect" on reading dog emotions, said the scientists. Playful growls were rated lowest for aggression, and food guarding growls highest.

The scientists concluded: "Our results indicate that dogs communicate honestly their size and inner state in serious contest situations, where confrontation would be costly, such as during guarding of their food from another dog.

"According to our results, adult humans seem to understand and respond accordingly to this acoustic information during cross-species interactions with dogs."

That's still no excuse for using a baby voice, though.