That dogs communicate nonverbally goes without saying. No matter how brilliant we claim our faithful pets are, they'll never utter a word. But that's not to say communicative canines aren't clear about how they're feeling. It turns out even babies get it.
A recent study conducted at Brigham Young University (BYU) demonstrated that infants of as young as six months old were able to connect dog sounds to corresponding images. In the test, babies with limited or no exposure to dogs were shown images of dogs in threatening and welcoming postures. As audio clips of angry and friendly barks were played, the babies spent more time staring at pictures that matched the sound.
BYU professor Ross Flom says that the ability to detect and interpret emotion is one of the first social developments in infants. Flom said the choice of conducting research with dogs was an easy one. "They are highly communicative creatures both in their posture and the nature of their bark," he says. And the babies? They were cooperative and not upset by the experiment.
So if the bark of a neighborhood hound wakes you in the middle of the night, don't be upset: The dog just may be socializing a baby.