MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: Canine fear of thunderstorm and Air Conditioning similarities

Date: Tue Sep 19 01:11:38 2000
Posted By: Abtin Spantman, , Electrical Engineering, L. S. Research, Inc.
Area of science: Zoology
ID: 961014118.Zo

Hi Sherri:

I had to discuss this with my cat, and this is what he said: 'There may be 
no connection between the different stimuli/agitants.  But if there is, 
it's probably that annoying high pitch sound.' 

The thunderstorms have loud noise combined with bright flashes of light, 
and vibration that can be felt through the ground.  As you said, that fear 
is pretty common, not just in dogs, but across all kinds of species.

The air conditioning may be emitting some high frequency sound components that 
the dog can detect. Those high frequency sounds may be coming from a motor, 
or simply the air blowing against an orifice or opening, similar to us 
blowing across the top of a glass soda bottle.  If you really want to get 
to the bottom of this part, you can hook up a microphone to your PC, and 
down load sound characterizing software from the following two sources:
rshorne/gram.html? http://
If you have the patience to set up the above, you will have HOURS of fun 
characterizing all kinds of sounds around the house.  Maybe you'll even 
remember to check for high pitch sounds that may be bugging the dog.  Air 
conditioning dampers sometimes make a rattling sound that is curious to 
animals.  I saw that in my cat also.  To them, it sounds like a little 
critter is scratching inside the vents.

The radio and the gentleman with cancer really baffle me. On the radio, try 
switching to a different station and watch the dog's response.  I would bet 
that if you find a strong station that comes in very clear, that the dog 
would no longer act up.  If, however, the dial is not tuned in properly, 
there may be some of that old high pitch sound coming out of the radio as 
well.  The microphone should be able to determine that for you.

As far as the gentleman, my guess would be, simply, the interaction between 
the gentleman and the dog.  There may be very subtle behavior changes that 
we may not notice, that cue the dog to behave funny.

I am sorry to hear about the cancer diagnosis. It is not an easy thing to 
go through.

Let me know if I can be of further help.
And do try those sites, they are a lot of fun.   Any microphone that plugs 
into your sound card will do.

Abtin Spantman

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