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Inaudible

Our dog Dusty has a problem barking too much. My parents bought a device that's supposed to emit a high-pitched noise when he barks - one that dogs can hear, but is inaudible to humans. False advertising. I can hear it.

It's a bit misleading, although not entirely so. When I was at my parents' house yesterday, I heard that noise. My parents can't, which made them surprised when I pointed out hearing it. My mom even started to wonder if I was human (does that mean I'm adopted?).

Dog whistles, and other similar devices (including this thing) work by producing a sound at a higher frequency than what a human can hear. Not everyone has the same range of frequencies that can be heard. Children can hear up to 20 kHz or so. That frequency gets smaller as people get older. This device probably works at ~18 kHz, which I believe is about the upper limits of my hearing based on this, and another site, which has sound samples at various frequencies. It's probably not very accurate, given the different capabilities of speakers and sound cards on every computer.

The lesson: Advertisers really like misleading things. Most adults probably can't hear that noise, but some people can. In addition to my dog's barking, I also get the pleasure of hearing a high-pitched noise as a double whammy. Also, for the record, I am human from as much evidence as I can gather about myself.