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Your dog gets what you say and now science has proven

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Dogs understand language and tones the same way as humans

Dogs are truly smart, which is something every pet owner knows. New research explains why and how it is that your dog understands what you are saying.


Research from the American Society for the Advancement of Science shows a dog's brain is very much like your own. At least when in comes to understanding human speech.

Dogs understand words and tone of voice

Scientists looked at dog brains using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). They discovered dogs use the same regions of the brain as humans to identify the meaning of words.

It turns out dogs also recognize intonation when you're speaking because their brain interprets just like you do.

In fact, some dogs even learn to talk, which obviously goes beyond what the new study describes::

Dogs use their brains just like humans do

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Attila Andics and team explain it isn't just humans that can learn vocabulary", adding it appears to be an "ancient function".

Dogs hear sequences of words and then use their brains just like humans do to attach meaning to what you say.

The scientists wanted to know if dogs, like humans, also respond to intonation - for instance praises are often delivered in a higher pitch. Can dogs recognize certain tones?

What they discovered is that dogs know words - regardless of intonation. When Fido looks guilty after the fact, he really does know what you're saying.

For the study they recorded the dog's brain activity while the pups were listening to their owners voices giving praise in neutral tones, using intonation to praise the dogs, using neutral tones with neutral words and using praising tones with neutral words.

Dogs were found to recognize distinct words. The experiment showed dogs process words in the left hemisphere of the brain, much like humans. They also recognized distinct tones that they process separately in the right hemisphere of the brain.

The researchers say domestication could be the reason dogs have learned to recognize what you say by words and pitch, which happened over time. The only thing humans do that dogs cannot is invent words.