You Speak, But Does Your Dog Understand You?

dog listening

Owning a pet and taking care of animals can be a rewarding yet challenging experience. Pet wellness is a term that refers to various aspects of your pet's health. For dog owners, in particular, this encompasses not only your dog's diet, weight, and vital organ health but also your pet's level of contentment, ability to train, and demeanor toward other animals and humans. You no doubt speak to your dog many times throughout the day, but have you ever stopped to wonder if he or she really understands what you are saying?

Humans and Dogs Use Similar Neural Processing for Word Sounds

Part of your pet wellness routine likely includes giving your pet verbal commands as part of their training process. You might also enjoy your dog's companionship and speak to them as you would a friend. In both humans and dogs, the brain picks up on certain letter sounds to form an interpretation of a word.[1]

The human brain, however, is more complex and sophisticated in function than a dog's brain. While it might seem that your dog understands you when you say simple words, such as "dig," you could probably use a similar word, such as "dog," with the same tone of voice, and your dog will react to it as though it were the same word.

This is because dogs are processing changes in letter sounds more than they are actually interpreting or comprehending the meaning of words. It is basically similar to humans when they hear words. However, human brains can take word understanding to the next level by recognizing sounds and applying interpretation or meaning to the words that are heard.

Dogs Have Smaller Vocabularies Than Humans

Experiments measuring electrical impulses in the brains of dogs participating in the studies showed that dogs can differentiate between short words that their owners often say to them and nonsensical words.[2] However, dogs' brains aren't sophisticated enough to differentiate between similar short words.

If you say the word "sit" to your dog, then say the word "sat," the dog will basically think you are saying the same word twice. Studies also show that dogs do not have the ability to recognize longer or more complex word sounds.

Tone of Voice Is a Valuable Dog Training Tool

While your dog might not understand most of the words you're saying, your tone of voice is a key factor in getting your message across. Using your voice tone and volume, you can influence your dog's behavior.[2] Similar to a child who doesn't respond well to constant criticism, your dog may not train well if you're always yelling at it.

Changes in the tone and volume of your voice can express praise, correction, concern, urgency or danger, love, sadness, or disappointment. Even if your dog doesn't specifically understand a particular phrase, such as "Watch out for that car!" if the intonation and volume of your voice express danger, it will get your dog's attention.

Overall Pet Wellness

Just like humans, no two dogs are exactly the same. Many factors determine whether your dog is living a healthy lifestyle. In addition to learning more about animal behavior, it's best to build a strong pet support network from the start to help keep your pet healthy. EquiVet Care makes pet wellness care a top priority. Having a veterinary team you can trust makes a world of difference for you and your pet.

Visit EquiVet Care online today as the first step of your pet wellness journey.






Leave a Comment