Animal Cognition

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 389–400 | Cite as

Classification of dog barks: a machine learning approach

  • Csaba MolnárEmail author
  • Frédéric Kaplan
  • Pierre Roy
  • François Pachet
  • Péter Pongrácz
  • Antal Dóka
  • Ádám Miklósi
Original Paper


In this study we analyzed the possible context-specific and individual-specific features of dog barks using a new machine-learning algorithm. A pool containing more than 6,000 barks, which were recorded in six different communicative situations was used as the sound sample. The algorithm’s task was to learn which acoustic features of the barks, which were recorded in different contexts and from different individuals, could be distinguished from another. The program conducted this task by analyzing barks emitted in previously identified contexts by identified dogs. After the best feature set had been obtained (with which the highest identification rate was achieved), the efficiency of the algorithm was tested in a classification task in which unknown barks were analyzed. The recognition rates we found were highly above chance level: the algorithm could categorize the barks according to their recorded situation with an efficiency of 43% and with an efficiency of 52% of the barking individuals. These findings suggest that dog barks have context-specific and individual-specific acoustic features. In our opinion, this machine learning method may provide an efficient tool for analyzing acoustic data in various behavioral studies.


Acoustic communication Dog barks Machine learning Genetic programming 



The authors are thankful to the members of the MEOE Magyar Mudi Klub for their assistance with the sound recordings. We also wish to thank Celeste Pongrácz for checking our English in this paper. This study was funded by grants from the Hungarian NSF (OTKA) No. T047235.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Csaba Molnár
    • 1
    Email author
  • Frédéric Kaplan
    • 2
  • Pierre Roy
    • 3
  • François Pachet
    • 3
  • Péter Pongrácz
    • 1
  • Antal Dóka
    • 1
  • Ádám Miklósi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EthologyEötvös Loránd UniversityBudapestHungary
  2. 2.Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, CRAFTLausanneSwitzerland
  3. 3.Sony Computer Science Laboratory, ParisParisFrance

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