Do Dogs Understand English? How Do Dogs Understand Human Commands?

Do Dogs Understand English? How Do Dogs Understand Human Commands?

Isn’t it amazing to witness you command your dog and them obeying you? They seem to understand every word that you tell them to do. It’s not just you but all the dog owners around the world who are fascinated by how quickly their dogs respond to them when their cute pooches are called by their name. And under this scenario, it’s completely natural to speculate if dogs can understand English.

Do Dogs Understand English?

Sadly, dogs can’t understand English. To speak the truth, dogs don’t understand any of the languages that humans have developed. Whether you live with your dog in America or China, all that matters to your dog is the tone of your voice and notes of the sound. By notes, we don’t mean musical scales and notes but simply the way they hear certain words. If you’re still undecided about whether or not your pet can understand English, please peruse this article for more insight.

How Do They Follow Your Commands?

As we’ve said before, pooches are not interested in performing a whole new linguistic approach to learning English. They are just interested in things that make their tummy full and excitement fulfilled. Dogs very well know that once they do something you tell them to do; they’ll get rewarded with treats. So, as soon as you tell them to do a ‘barrel roll’, they’ll do it. Just don’t forget to give treats later. This ‘treat’ system fulfills their excitement and makes them want to do this again and again.

Another example, when it’s time to go out for a walk, you carry a leash and call your dog, “Let’s go for a walk.” It’s natural, your dog won’t care about any other words, but the word ‘walk’ sparks their brain and they’ll come running towards you. The next day, try saying, “Buffalo Ping Pong walk.”Your dog will come running this time too.  Why? It’s because the sentence still has the striking word ‘walk’ in it. You need to understand that dogs won’t follow every command. If the consequences for following your command aren’t desirable, your dog won’t follow it.

What About Your Tone? Does Your Tone Matter?

When you’re praising your dog, they can differentiate whether it’s empty praise or a real one just by the intonation of the way you deliver it. According to research performed by Hungarian researchers, dogs on a neurological level can distinguish between praising and neutral tones. For their research, they observed the brains and blood flow of 13 dogs using an imaging tool, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

It was found that the friendlier the tone that the trainer delivered, the more excited the dogs became and their blood flow increased significantly. Another example is that when you suddenly shout and sound worried, your pooches may bark right away and run towards you because they find that alarming as well as something very urgent.

Here are some of the tones that your dog can find out straight away:

Cheerful: Friendly sounds sound mostly stupid and playful. Talking in a happy voice with your dog will say to them that you are proud of their behavior. Your dog will react by moving their ears, paws, or even their tail.

Lowly: This tone of voice demands attention and indicates to your dog that you do not agree with a certain course of action. By lowering their head and tail, your dog can react in various ways. If you’re lucky enough, you can witness your dog apologizing to you too.

Calming: When bonding with your puppy, a gentle tone of voice communicates love and care. Consider how you speak while attempting to console an infant and you’ll get this sound down the most useful one. When you pet your puppy, say “Sweet pup” to show how much you adore them.

Firm: This tone of voice is best useful when you are trying to train your pup. It can be considered once in a while when they start acting stubborn but, don’t use it more often because it can develop fear in your dog’s mind and a frightened dog is the most difficult ones to take care of.

Why Is Vocal Communication with Your Dog So Important?

Pet owners want their dogs to like them. The benefit of verbal communication is that your dog can easily understand what you expect from them. This is vital in an emergency where the dog may not be facing you but must obey an important order.

When you can’t see your puppy, strong vocal contact helps you to control them. A short call out the back door could result in a dog sprinting to the sound of your voice. Voice instructions often cross the size limit allowing even a small human to handle a large dog. When proper voice tone and pitch are used, even young children may feel comfortably in charge.

It requires time to develop a better understanding of human conversation. Dogs initially refer to sound and volume, but they gradually remember individual words. If you say “Treat” before reaching for a dog biscuit, your loyal partner will learn to dash to you when they hear the word. Term associations, including tone and volume, strengthen our ability to interact with our companions. The key factor is that you must use the right word at the right time.

For example, you might have seen this a lot, dogs waiting for their owners counting before they are allowed to eat. But in normal cases and conversations when you are subconsciously counting, dogs might get the wrong idea and expect treats. Thus, carefully pick the word and use it at the right time. Using specific and personal words reduces uncertainty, but don’t get too adventurous. No one else would be able to communicate with your dog while you use your own personal language.

You might also be interested in Can Dogs Talk?


So, do dogs understand English? Well, to simply answer your question, No, dogs can’t understand English but if we realize how our tone and volume affect our message, teaching a dog to understand human interactions will become easier. Always remember that it’s not only what you say, but even how you say it.

Thank you for reading the article.

To explore more, check out other articles that we have covered on dogs and their cognitive abilities. 

How do you communicate with your dog? How do they try to talk back to you? We would love to hear from you. Please share with our community by leaving a comment below!

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