Even dogs understand our language

Until a few years ago, the ability to recognize sounds when spoken by different people was thought to be only human. Among members of the scientific community, however, evidently there are pet lovers who have worked to prove that this is not the case at all. In fact, the dog understands what is said to him, even if it is not a member of his family who is doing it and even if the words used have not been taught to him beforehand.

Researchers at the University of Sussex filmed the reaction of 42 dogs of different breeds as they heard recordings of male and female voices of short words not related to each other but with similar pronunciation. They were able to hear different people saying the same word and recognize it, ignoring differences in accent and pronunciation.

Context translators

Basically, dogs are able to distinguish different human accents, unless their ears are plugged! So, try asking your puppy to “fetch the ball” with an elegant French accent or with a stymied Milanese brogue, rest assured that your dog’s linguistic radar will be up to the challenge.

Moreover, while many humans may struggle to understand sarcasm, dogs in contrast, seem to have a Ph.D. in context. In fact, they do not just hear the words, but analyze the whole scenario. They are like the Sherlock Holmes of the linguistic world, sniffing out the meaning behind words and gestures.

Okay, but do dogs talk?

We have ascertained that dogs understand our language more than we think, but can we say that dogs also communicate with us in vocal form?

We have to start far back: their wolf ancestors do not bark, because barking is a method of communication that dogs developed through domestication. Dogs probably developed this ability to talk better with humans.

This highlights the exceptional nature of dogs, for while humans use verbal communication as their main form of communication, i dogs have evolved to communicate in ways more similar to our methods. Dogs have several vocalizations, including barking, the howl, the yelp, the snort and the howl of pain, each with its own purpose. The tone and severity of the bark may also vary depending on what the dog is trying to communicate.