Video: Theme songs and the dogs who howl at them

  1. Closed captioning of: Theme songs and the dogs who howl at them

    >>> next olympic games .

    >>> tonight a moment of geek inspired by an unanswered pseudo scientific question that was posed by our friends at boingboing.net. they asked this question, we cannot figure out the answer. so, of course, the first thing we did was ask kent jones to look into the basics of this.

    >> it's one of the most recognizable theme songs in all of television. *

    >> " law & order " what makes this music make dogs react like this? what's happening here? are dogs saying bravo or step back noisy box? you're violating my security perimeter. have they embedded a secret message into the theme that only dogs can hear? to get some answers i went to the rachel maddow show facebook page. the sound made, the familiar and now iconic thump thump is actually the sound of a ball being thrown against a wall. i also spoke to actor richard belzer , he couldn't explain the howling but he did say this, dogs are definitely responding to the theme music , it's so popular, i'm writing a pilot called law and order special canine unit, scu. there's no law, no order, only this. rachel, it's a puzzle wrapped in an enigma, surrounded by two successful spin-offs.

    >> thank you, kent for essentially deepening the mystery of why dogs howl when they hear the theme song to law and order . joining us now is someone who may help us get closer to an actual answer. robert bran dow, he's brought with him chomper, a dog that works in dog bite prevention. it's nice to meet you both. thanks for being here.

    >> chomper is a little like bucky the gentle horse?

    >> yes.

    >> dix term, but i do believe you know canine psychology, why do you think these dogs are howling.

    >> the reason more likely than not, there's some sound in that music that triggers a fixed action response in the dogs. it's hard wired . so there's a sound that they hear other dogs howling, for example, they're going to begin to howl. it's a group activity.

    >> you think they're hearing something that they think -- that sounds to them like dog howling?

    >> yes. like dog howling. fixed action response?

    >> fixed action pattern , hard-wired behavior.

    >> is it possible they're hearing something that humans can't hear like a high frequency sound ?

    >> it could be, but i don't think that's what it is. i think those chords sound somewheres in the range of a siren or dog howling that triggers that response. it is like a genetic response.

    >> while we were sitting here i said don't worry the " law & order " theme song won't be ambient but he could hear it through the ear piece and his reaction was he got excited.

    >> that's what it does. it's a behavior where the group gets involved and they begin to do it together and it's also a p communication -- they're communicating to each other. they're letting the other animals know where they are, the other wolves know where they are. so they can either have an encounter or avoid an encounter. he got excited and begin to get into that activity.

    >> he's channeling his inner wolf.

    >> that's right.

    >> when dogs howl like this, one of the things -- what boing boing posted -- they said we see this dog that howls when he hears the " law & order " sound . watching at the videos i get upset because when i hear dogs howling i think they're upset. but it doesn't mean that.

    >> no, they actually like this. this is something they like. they're not upset. they're joining in. it's like a group activity. they feel connected. they're responding. they're communicating.

    >> in deciding that we wanted to talk to you about this today, you talked to us about a certain kind of behavior?

    >> it's a strange word. all it means is monkey see monkey do.

    >> essentially means copycat or copy dog.

    >> which is how animals learn. they learn by object serving each other.

    >> in terms of people noticing that their animals respond to weird stuff. "a," there's no concern about it. "b," probably a dog thing that has absolutely nothing to do with us. can we conclude they're not doing it on purpose in order to make people watch " law & order "?

    >> correct. they are not doing it on purpose. it's a response built into them.

    >> but the " law & order " people could be doing it in order to make people watch because they want to see what dogs do when it starts.

    >> that's debatable. i guess if your dog enjoys the show, i guess you will, too.

    >> we might work on our theme song to come up with something that would make chomper make noise. robert brandau, canine behavioral expert. chomper, thanks for being a good sport.

    >>> to those of you at home or watching us on the treadmill or wherever you're watching us right now, i do want to say we need your help with one thing about this. in terms of this still being somewhat of a continuing mystery, we guess as to why they're doing it and have some information, scientific information about why they're doing it but we're still curious. help thus way. if your dog howls -- excuse me, chomer -- if your dog -- i speak lab. if your dog does something like that at the " law & order " theme song or something else consistently wherever a human sound is made and your dogs responds to that like the phone ringing or opera or oprah, whatever. send us video evidence. you'll find instructions how to do so at rachel.msnbc.com. we believe we will get to the bottom of this with your help and also enjoy looking at pictures of your pets in the process.

    >>> coming up, the new medal unveiled in vancouver. it is a platinum medal sort of. please stay tuned for that. with my subaru forester and

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