Dog owners will be the first to tell you that their dog pays attention to every word their loving owners say. Dog owners know this is true, and studies have confirmed it. While your dog may not understand the meaning of all the words you use, it surely does pay attention and respond appropriately (most of the time).

At the University of Sussex, researchers from the School of Psychology conducted tests on dogs to see if the dogs process speech the same way humans do. Humans, and dogs, actually respond to various elements beyond the words being spoken. We hear the emotions in speech; we can also pick up on age or gender from speech. We also use our eyes to record subtle body language. Human, and dog brains are capable of picking up a lot of stimuli because of an ability to separately process the various components found in human voices. This gives dogs the ability to pick up on both our verbal and non-verbal thoughts.

Victoria Ratcliffe, University of Sussex, and co-author of the dog study has said that while we may not know exactly how much our dogs do understand, we do know “that dogs react to both verbal and speaker-related information, and that these components appear to be processed in different areas of the dog’s brain.”

Earlier studies proved that animals use a left-right hemisphere distinction when exposed to speech from their own species. This latest study was done to see if animals, especially domesticated ones, respond to human speech in the same manner.

This study involved placing dogs between two loudspeakers that played a human voice and other sounds at the same time. The researchers were interested in how the dogs reacted to the sounds.

What they found was that dogs process spoken commands in the left hemisphere of their brain. The right hemisphere handles processing non-verbal cues and tones. Amazingly, this is exactly how humans process speech.

The researchers agree that the dogs may have developed these skills due to becoming domesticated. Further tests need to be done on other domesticated animals like horses, and on non-domesticated canines like wolves.

Dog owners everywhere should be thrilled to know that their dog really does listen, and pay attention, to every word they say. Your dog might not know exactly what you are saying, but he will be able to respond correctly a great majority of the time.

Source: The Mind Unleashed 


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