How much does your dog really understand?

Feb. 21, 2018

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Dogs are our best friends, our constant companions and sometimes our co-workers. They can sniff cancer and comfort us, but how much do they really understand?

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It turns out scientists can actually measure that — and dogs know more than you might think.

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A 2016 study from researchers at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest found that dogs understand both our words and our tone.

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When researchers measured dogs’ brain activity, they found that the dogs’ brains lit up when their trainers spoke to them.

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But they weren’t just responding to the sound of their trainers' voices.

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The dogs were played recordings of both meaningful and meaningless words in both praising and neutral tones.

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The dogs’ brains showed that they were responding to both the tone and the vocabulary their trainers were using.

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Understandably, the dogs responded best when they heard meaningful words in praising tones.

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According to lead researcher Attila Andics, the findings mean dogs seem to understand language much the same way we do.

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Dogs can not only tell apart what we say and how we say it, but they can also combine the two for a correct interpretation of what those words really meant.

— Attila Andics

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Again, this is very similar to what human brains do.

— Attila Andics

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