BBC News Online
Wednesday, 31 July, 2002, 18:12 GMT 19:12 UK
Old dogs learn new tricks
Listen carefully when a dog barks at you. He may be trying to tell you
For according to scientists, man's best friend is probably cleverer than you
Not only does Fido use different barks to communicate but he can even count.
"It raises huge questions if dogs are capable of that kind of theoretical
thinking"Erica Peachey, animal behaviourist
Researchers at the University of California, Davis, recorded the barks of 10
dogs of six different breeds.
They believe individual dogs have different sounds for different situations.
A single high-pitched bark means, "Where has my owner gone?" while a
lower-pitched harsher "superbark" says, "There's a stranger coming".
The idea that dogs can count is more controversial. A second study suggests
dogs have a basic mathematical ability that enables them to work out when one
pile of objects is bigger than another.