Our Dogs Understand Our Words And How They Are Said

Posted by Dawn Shive on

I talk to my dogs all the time. I bet you do too since I have yet to meet a pet lover who does not. I really feel that my dogs know their names. Belle does not react when I am getting onto Abbie for something. Abbie, my Min Pin, is really a well behaved dog, but she is a Min Pin, after all. In addition to having a Min Pin's normal high energy and curiosity, she is right smack dab in the middle of the Terrible Two's. Abbie ignores me when I start talking to Belle by her name until she feels like Belle has received enough individual attention. When she thinks enough is enough, she will nose in between Belle and me. In addition to knowing her name, Abbie also responds to "Monster Dog", one of my nicknames for her. My Mom laughs because she says Abbie thinks this is a term of endearment. Probably because I am usually laughing and petting her when I call her this. She is normally wiggling all over with delight as I am calling her my "Monster Dog". Belle also knows her nickname is "Baby Girl". My late husband adored her and she was his "Baby Girl". She has always been called this as much as she has been called "Belle". I have always told her she is "Momma's Baby Girl" too since she was an itty bitty puppy. 

Don't you find that your dogs seem to understand what you are saying when you talk to them? We all think ours are the smartest dogs ever. I have always wondered just how much our dogs do understand what we are saying to them. I am always interested in research and studies into this. I read an article in Science Daily this morning titled, "Dogs understand both vocabulary and intonation of human speech". In this study, the researchers used MRI's to analyze the dog's brain activity while they listened to their trainers recorded voices. In the recordings, the trainers changed the intonation to the words they were saying. In this study, the researchers found dogs process words and intonation/inflection separately just like humans do. They also use the left side of their brain for this function, again, like humans. The dogs understood the meaning of each word as distinct, regardless of intonation, it was found in this study. 

After reading this article, my thoughts turned to dogs who learn words in another language. It made me think of shelter dogs who do not respond to the words spoken to them in this new setting. What if they learned the words in another language and just do not understand what is being said to them now in a new language? Maybe it would be worthwhile for the shelter to find out what language was the primary language in the home they came from. 


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