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A man's best friend? Not anymore

Friends

It sounds barking ... but women are better than men at understanding what a dog means when it growls.

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File photo: Researchers found women were correct at identifying the animal’s intentions 65 percent of the time. Picture: Public Domain Pictures

Their greater emotional insight may give them the edge in identifying what a dog is feeling, experts say.

Researchers found women were correct at identifying the animal’s intentions 65 percent of the time, compared to 45 percent for men. Dog owners of both sexes were also more accurate than non-dog owners by a similar range – 60 percent versus 40 percent. Scientists recorded the sounds made by 18 dogs during activities including guarding their food, facing a threatening stranger, or playing a tug-of-war game.

Overall, around 63 percent of the 40 participants who took part in the study were able to identify the dog’s emotions in the growls. The figure is significantly more than would be expected by guesswork alone, said the researchers. The human listeners identified 81 percent of the "play" growls but were less good at recognising food guarding and threatening sounds.

Friendly dogs produced a larger number of shorter, less separated growls, the research showed. Scientists from Eotvos Lorand University in Hungary wrote in the journal Royal Society Open Science: "It is known that women have a higher emotional sensitivity and probably this higher sensitivity can help to differentiate better the context of the growls."

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