For many people, dogs are some of the most intelligent and relatable animals. From their ability to pick up on your emotions and moods to their understanding of words and commands, dogs make for a great companion dog—or test subject.
If you’ve ever wondered ‘Do dogs understand humans?’ you’re not alone. The simple answer is yes. They can. However, there are different aspects associated with this issue.
This is why, we’ve put together this informative article that will outline why many experts believe that certain breeds can comprehend human language more than others, as well as explain more about the science behind what we know about how dogs absorb information from human beings.
Here Are 9 Theories On Dog-Human Communication
1. Dogs are capable of understanding many human words:
If you have a dog, you know that they’re very sensitive to shouting and other loud human noises, so it makes sense that dogs have a very keen ability to understand what people are saying. Most breeds of dogs are able to recognize hundreds of words, although not all words are understood with equal ease.
For example, German Shepherds are good at picking up on the word “shoe” because the word shares phonetic qualities with other relevant cues, like the clanging of the doorknob when your shoes come off or an unfamiliar person approaching your home. It all depends on the breed, but in general, dogs are much better at understanding homonyms (words that sound the same but have different meanings) than they are at understanding pronouns (words like “her” and “she”).
2. The human voice is the most efficient way for dogs to absorb information:
Most experts will tell you that dogs understand certain words because of how we talk to them—whether it’s using baby talk or focusing on one specific word in their sentences. Although many experts argue that how we talk to dogs can affect how they learn, there is no considerable evidence to suggest that the human voice is more effective than other methods for enhancing learning. Because dogs are so sensitive to human speech, it is one of their most important senses when deciphering words and phrases.
3. Humans give cues when talking to their dogs:
Some people think that by saying certain things, like “sit” or “come here,” they are giving their dog a cue for what to do. However, in reality, the word “sit” and the gesture for sitting (sit at your ease) serve as different functions; we use them differently because we believe that one action (a command) will teach the dog a completely different action (to sit down). It’s not a learned behavior for dogs—it’s a learned behavior for us.
4. “Effortless” training is essential to achieve this level of understanding with your dog:
Since dogs understand human speech, giving them commands and teaching them new things is not an issue of relating to direct orders from us or getting frustrated that they don’t understand what you’re saying. Instead, the more their owner understands what they want, the easier it will be for the dog to learn and pick up on human speech cues—as long as they have a suitable amount of time and patience.
5. Certain breeds are better at understanding human speech than others:
There are many different ways to categorize dogs based on their ability to understand human speech, but one of the most common is the Border Collie. These dogs have a soft, expressive voice that sounds more like a meow or whistle than other breeds, which makes them easier for other dogs to understand. Border Collies are also very intelligent, which helps them learn faster and pick up on human cues faster. They’re also regarded as sensitive to body language during training, making them better at picking up on specific words that are repeated over and over again.
6. Dogs can be tested to see if they understand human speech:
There are a few ways to test whether dogs comprehend human speech. A simple way of measuring how well dogs can understand human speech is by asking them to do different actions such as sit and come when you call their name. If your dog is unable to comprehend what you’re saying, there is a good chance that they will not respond strongly enough with a particular word or phrase that you’ve taught them in order to win a training session or a game of fetch.
7. It’s normal for dogs to understand only certain words at times:
Although dogs often pick up on human cues and understand humans, there are times when this ability does not exist. This is because dogs learn and understand words using multiple senses, including hearing and smell. Dogs also understand humans better during times of excitement or when they’re very tired, which is why they’re easier to train when they’re sleepy and hungry.
8. Dogs can’t talk back to us like we do to them:
Although many people believe that dogs understand what we say to them through our tone of voice or body language, this is not the case.
Indeed, animal behaviorist Dr. Gregory Berns argues that we can’t even fully comprehend what dogs are saying because their vocalizations don’t fully match the meaning of our words, and it’s likely that they don’t fully understand human speech or language either. However, it does make sense for dogs to understand certain parts of words and phrases, such as commands; they’ll most likely associate them with certain actions—such as “sit” or “come here”—and thus make up their own phrases around them.
9. Dogs can be just as expressive as we are:
Even though dogs don’t understand human speech, they do the best they can to communicate with us. Often, this is done through signs and sounds that we can’t quite comprehend, although paying attention to their body language and listening closely to their tone of voice can help us figure out what’s going on.
It’s also worth mentioning that it takes a lot of time and patience for dogs to learn our language; it’s not something that comes easy for them! As we all know, dogs will go through multiple hoops and hoops of training before learning how to understand what we’re saying.
If you would like to learn more on how to teach your dog to talk to you, check out our article ‘How To Teach Your Dog To Talk?’
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To explore more, read our other dog-related articles in dogs talk.
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