African wild dog has been classified among the most social of
all canids. The study of vocal communication has lagged behind
other scientific concerns in this socially complex carnivore.
Its vocal repertoire is one of the most complex in Canidae,
with some sounds unique to the species. The mixing of different
sound types is also found in this species and is used to express
ambivalence. Vocalizations provide a useful window on larger
patterns of behavior, particularly among social canids. Short-range
vocal communication accompanies many social interactions and
appears to play an important role in intra- and interpack dynamics,
and in forming and maintaining social bonds between pack members.
upon the motivational state and level of arousal of pack members,
sounds issued by individuals can give rise to cascading group
effects. Preceding a hunt, pack members often rally in a greeting
ceremony as shown in the photo here. The onset of the greeting
ceremony is frequently started by a single dog running up to
another one with head shoulder height, mouth agape, and ears
folded back. Muzzle-to-muzzle contact is an important feature
of the ceremony. Such contact, including lip licking and biting,
appears to be a symbolic solicitation for food. Greeting behavior
in adults might have developed from infantile begging. During
the ceremony many different kinds of sounds can be heard including
whines, whimpers, squeals, and high-pitched bird-like sounds
dogs hunt primarily in the early morning or at dusk. When filtering
through bush in search of prey, pack members often become separated
and sometimes call to reunite. Long distance contact calls are
common in canids and take the form of either short or long sounds.
Wild dog contact calls known as "hoos" are short,
low-pitched, and given in bouts of varying length and intensity.
They are delivered with the head held slightly lower than the
shoulders and often while running. In contrast, wolf howls are
long acoustic streams given with the head held high while stationary.