Dog Translator Turns Woof into Words

May 16, 2008 12:35 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A computerized dog translator beats humans at reading canine moods. The decoding of dogs’ language is the latest advance to suggest that animal emotions are more complex than previously thought.

30-Second Summary

Scientists have developed software that interprets the repertoire of noises dogs make to produce a linguistic expression of canine mood. In short, it is a dog translator.

However, it is only fractionally better than humans at correctly recognizing dogs' emotions. The computer was judged 43 percent accurate, compared to the average human result of 40 percent.

The New York Times wrote about another study, which found that canines’ emotions are more nuanced than previously thought. Dogs wag to the left when experiencing a negative emotion and to the right when it is a strong pleasant emotion. When the emotions are less intense, the left or right bias is less pronounced.

Apart from increasing our understanding of canine companions, the Times study indicates that some animal brains show a degree of complexity that many scientists previously thought only humans possessed.

The two studies are part of a new trend in scientific research into dog behavior, according to an article on, an electronic science magazine.

Some scientists claim that dogs’ “love” depends on their owners’ continuing to supply food and care. They would switch loyalties if the source of care changed, animal sciences expert Fred Metzger told

Others disagree. Dog trainer Leslie Burgard describes dog love as unconditional. Biologist Susan B. Eirich says social animals, such as dogs, must have emotions in order to communicate with their kind.

Headline: Studies throw light on dog behavior

Opinion & Analysis: The link between dog and man

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The pet lovers’ take
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