Dogs are the beloved best friends of relentless protectors of their owners, making it natural for us to believe they’ve detected danger. This begs the question of whether or not ultrasonic sounds are safe, given how dogs bark uncontrollably when these types of frequencies are activated. Are they trying to warn us about something we don’t know?
What Is Ultrasonic?
Sounds are classified as ultrasonic if their waves register outside the range of audible frequency for humans. Usually leveled at 1Mz or higher, ultrasonic devices are designed to use these high-frequency sound waves to measure distances and detect objects as well as flaws in products, surfaces, and structures that can’t be seen through human eyes or microscopic lenses. This technology is known in the medicine world as ultrasound, and enables medical professionals and researchers to find things out about our insides that we never would have otherwise.
Just because humans can’t hear these waves does not mean that they are inaudible to all living creatures. Ultrasonic sounds ranging from 20 to 100 kilohertz are used to train dolphins, bats, and a range of other species. And of course, we are all familiar with the dog whistle: a small metal whistle that emits an ultrasonic sound that only dogs can hear. Dog owners use this device for training and to stop the barking.
Why all the barking?
Dogs tend to bark at most sounds they are unprepared for: doorbells, thunder, and vacuum cleaners, to name a few. This reaction stems from either fear resulting from being shocked or surprised, and of course, protecting their owner. Humans can detect sounds in the average range of 64 to 23,000 hertz, but for dogs, that range jumps to between 67 to 45,000 hertz. This increased capability explains why you sometimes catch your dog barking without being able to hear what he’s barking at. Dogs will often pick up ultrasonic frequencies that scare them, which will cause them to howl, bark, and sometimes whimper.
In short, no – dogs are not barking to warn us of potential harm caused by ultrasonic frequencies. They are simply being dogs and reacting to strange noises they weren’t expecting. That being said, prolonged or intense exposure can cause harm to humans and can cause damage to products, surfaces, and structures. Smaller devices such as a dog whistle are in no way harmful, but larger devices must be operated at the hands of a trained professional in order to mitigate the slight risk of potential harm.
Keep Your Pup Happy
Because ultrasonic sounds are inevitable in most environments, experts have looked into training methods to quell incessant barking whenever they encounter them. If the dog seems to bark continuously in the same place, try to find the source of these frequencies and move or eliminate them if possible. If it is not possible, calmly and clearly say “quiet” or a similar command word whenever the barking starts, then gently hold his muzzle until the barking subsides. As with all training, reward this behavior with a treat, and continue this pattern of reaction until the incessant barking stops for good.