For humans, language sounds are fairly arbitrary. There is no set of words that have a common meaning for all members of our species. Many different sounds, in different languages, can mean the same thing. The sounds associated with the words, "perro," "chien," "Hund," and "dog," all mean the same thing, there is virtually nothing in common among the sound patterns which make up their words.
The sounds that animals use to communicate with each other, however, have much more uniformity. These sounds are different for different species, but (except for certain regional "dialects" among birds) within any one animal type, there seems to be some sort of fairly common or universal language and there appears to be a universal sound code used by most animals. It is based upon three dimensions: the pitch of the sound, the duration of the sound, and the frequency or repetition rate of the sounds.
Barking is an alarm sound. There is no threat of aggression signaled by the dog unless it is lower pitched and mixed with growls. Let's consider the interpretation of the most common barks.
Stanley Coren is the author of many books including: Born to Bark, The Modern Dog, Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses? The Pawprints of History, How Dogs Think, How To Speak Dog, Why We Love the Dogs We Do, What Do Dogs Know? The Intelligence of Dogs, Why Does My Dog Act That Way? Understanding Dogs for Dummies, Sleep Thieves, The Left-hander Syndrome
Copyright SC Psychological Enterprises Ltd. May not be reprinted or reposted without permission