They Studied Dogs’ Awareness of Human Words, and Guess What They Found?

Happy Dog

Research suggests that dogs may have the ability to not only understand human words and voice commands, but may establish a neural recognition or picture in their mind of a certain object with which they are familiar. According to researchers dogs may be able to pick up on visual clues that the pet owner or other human may be providing with gestures, tone, and even posture. Most interesting and possibly because of the domestication of the species, the dog does not have a problem making eye contact with humans unlike its wild counterparts such as the wolf. Communication does go both ways. While dogs seem to have mastered understanding humans, and more pointedly their pet owners, we humans are also picking up on communication cues from our dogs, by interpreting the wagging tail when the dog is happy or excited to see their human, or growling if they feel threatened whether by human or another animal. Researchers have even conjectured that the way a dog wags its tail may be significant. Even though comprehensive, the study is not totally conclusive as to how much and exactly how dogs are able to recognize and understand human language. For more detailed information on this new study you can contact Dr. Gregory Berns with Emory University.

Key Takeaways:

  • It is undecided whether it is the tone of the voice that a dog is listening to or it is forming a mental imagery of words.
  • Many pet owners believe that their dogs know the meaning of certain words they speak to them, but the author states there is no science to confirm this.
  • In the study that was conducted on dogs understanding, 12 dogs of varying breeds were recruited and their owners were told to train them to retrieve two objects.

“The never-ending quest to learn what makes canine companions tick has produced a brand new study of dogs’ understanding of human words, or more specifically, the connections they make between objects and the words we assign to them.”

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