“Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.”
– A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh.
Huskey was too little when I took him home. Every day is spent with him, and he has grown up. We’ve been to a lot of locations, and one day he tried to express something that I thought I understood, but I never did. If you think your dog is able to understand you and talk to you, you’re not wrong!
Read on to find out whether dogs can talk and understand human language.
Can Dogs Talk?
In a way, yes. But dogs don’t talk in the literal sense. They don’t use words and sentences to communicate with us. Their language is an intricate combination of their bark and body language. For example, if they’re barking, then they may be telling you that there might be a possible threat. But if they’re whimpering or whining, it could be a sign of discomfort.
Can Dogs Understand Humans?
Dogs are man’s best friend, right? And we all love having them around the house. But did you know that your dog may be able to understand what you’re saying, even if they don’t understand English?
Turns out, dogs do understand humans. Their brain processes speech much like human brains do.
A group of researchers in Hungary conducted a study with 12 very active Border collies, Golden retrievers, and a German shepherd. They were put into a brain scanner to see what was going on in their brains. By the end of it, researchers found that the dog’s brain could not only recognize every speech but process emotional meaning and the literal
Dogs also detect sound with their sense of hearing. When one human is talking to another, the first human is making noise with their mouth and this is what the second human hears. The sound waves travel through your pup’s ear canal until they reach its eardrums.
Dogs can also understand humans by using smell. When you give your dog a treat or take them for a walk in the woods, you are leaving behind “hints” of scents that your dog can smell later on.
How Do Dogs Talk/Communicate with Humans?
Dogs communicate with humans using a sophisticated system of body language and vocalization.
Body language is how a dog communicates their feelings through body position. The change in their body language is so subtle that it is very difficult to even for an experienced dog owner to understand. Some of the frequently observed signals that dogs use to communicate with humans:
- Eyes: Dogs express many things through their eyes. They will brighten up when the canine finds someone or something friendly. On the other hand, when they are scared, their pupils dilate.
- Ears: Ears are the prominent feature of understanding a dog’s body language. Dog’s ears perked alert, If the ears are back, they are relaxed and open for others’ approval.
- Tongue and teeth: Dogs can do a lot with their mouth too. A happy dog will lick you all over and may even bite playfully when the dog is happy. When a happy dog shows its teeth,(yes, dogs do smile).
- Tail: You might have seen your dog wagging their tail a lot. Dogs can be very expressive with their tail. Research shows that dogs wagging their left or right have different implications. You have to be able to read the signs.
- Face: Just like humans, dogs frown and wrinkle their foreheads when they are determined or confused.
You might think that your dog is just making noise when she’s barking. That’s not true. What we have to understand is that barking is their language, just like words are to us. They bark, growl, whine, whimper, and howl based on how they are feeling. Being vocal is their way of communicating with us. So, it is important that we recognize the type and what each sound means.
Research in cross-species referential signaling in domestic dogs concludes that dogs use about 19 different signals to communicate.
How Can You Talk to Your Dog?
Dogs respond to sign languages just as much as spoken languages. There are both deaf and hearing dogs, and they form equally strong bonds with each other. Dogs observe and learn our body language too and will respond accordingly. And as dogs have a strong sense of smell.
Humans can also understand what the dog is trying to say through smell. Their scent of urination and anal glands can mean that they are nervous, fearful, or in their heat cycle.
Also, check out Can Dogs Think?
Why Is It Important to Understand What Your Dog Says?
Understanding what your dog has to say is an important aspect when it comes to building a good relationship with your pet. Oftentimes, we blame our dogs for their behavioral problems when it can be us failing to understand what our dogs are trying to say.
We think they are not listening to us, but in reality, it may be us who are not listening to them. So, it is important that we observe their signals and communicate with them properly. This way, training can be effective and the bond between us and our furry companions becomes strong too.
Can Dogs Talk to Each Other?
Yes. Dogs have their own way of communicating with each other. They use their body language and sound to show signs and signals to fellow dogs.
Marc Bekoff, a biologist and author of Animal Passions and Beastly Virtues, has mentioned some ways that dogs can communicate with each other:
- Paw slap: Paw slap is exactly like your friend coming up and giving you a pat on your back. It’s dogs’ way of telling each other, ‘Let’s play’.
- Raising hind legs: If your dog rears upon their hind legs, it is a sign of affection. It can also be taken as a sign of playfulness.
- Biting: Although your dog biting on another dog looks scary, there is nothing to worry about. Your dog is only being playful.
The Future of Dog Language
Scientists have been researching canine communication and language comprehension for a long time. Dogs are one of the most communicative animals, with others including parrots, elephants, and chimpanzees. Today’s dog owners are able to read their dogs’ expressions, scientists are looking further than that by studying possibilities for dogs to communicate more effectively. Dr. Ian Pearson, futurologist, has anticipated that by 2050, dogs will be able to use an adapted form of technology to talk to their humans, just like humans do.
Who knows, maybe your dog will be the one calling you lazybones by 2050!
Long story short, yes. Dogs can talk, just not in the same way humans do. Their body language and sound can tell you a lot if you observe carefully and try to understand them. Once you get their way of communication, the special bond that you share with your furry best friend can reach a whole new level.
Thank you for reading the article.
To explore more, read our other dog-related articles in dogs talk.
How does your dog communicate with you? Have you ever seen your dogs talking to each other? How do they do it? We would love to hear from you. Please share with our community by leaving a comment below!