Do dogs listen and what are they trying to tell us?

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Canine Trustee: Your dog may not understand everything you say.

Observing some dog owners, one might think that human nature treats animals as humans. We put them on; we even give them birthdays (which this grumpy Newscriptster hasn’t had in a long time).

And, of course, we talk to them. The question Sophie Jacques and Catherine Reeve suggested: do they respond to what we say? To estimate the size of the dog’s word list, there were 165 dog owners on the team who said a battery of words and saw if their pets responded to them (Example. Anime. Behavior. Sciences. 2022, DOI: 10.1016 / j.applanim.2021.105513). Developmental psychologists such as Jacques, a professor at Dalhousie University, use a similar method to measure children’s vocabulary in early language development. Scientists believe that species comparisons can be informative.

The list of words that the researchers and dog owners put together included items and general commands concerning the canine genus, e.g. heel, proteinand to speak– after all, it was language learning. The average dog in the study answered 89 words, which is roughly equal to the number answered by a 1-year-old English learner.

“You might think, ‘Well, dogs are as smart as a 1-year-old.’ But there are very important differences, ”Jacques told Newscripts. Young people who are learning English tend to know more nouns than other parts of the language, and have more specific object concepts, e.g. the ball, doll, cookiesor peas. However, dogs usually respond to broad categories of objects, for example toy or foodshe says. Dogs seem to respond to more active words and verbs that they associate with consequences rather than nouns.

The size of the canine words varied quite a bit, but some models have emerged. Types of breeds that were designed to work with humans, such as herding dogs, and companion breeds such as Chihuahuas tended to respond to more words than terriers, such as those that were originally bred to repel pests. which does not allow requiring human interaction. Trained working dogs, such as search and rescue dogs and medical dogs, also showed up in the study, responding to an average of 120 words.

So, can your dog understand your lecture on the moral nuances of biting shoes? With 89 words to work with, probably not. But Jacques says a well-calibrated list of words can one day be useful to a dog trainer. For example, training a dog to help a blind person can take a year or more and cost about $ 30,000, so using dog words to weed out those who are unlikely to make it to the end of training would be convenient if it could be captured. .

The dog puts his ear to the phone lying on the ground and opens his mouth.

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Here’s a bark at you: dogs whine to their owners, not to other objects.

Despite the small vocabulary, dogs are unaware of the power of their voicemails. A new study led Florence Ghana and Thierry Lego The National Center for Scientific Research of France (CNRS) has documented the sounds made by dogs when faced with the impossible task of getting food off a high shelf in the presence of their owner (Example. Anime. Behavior. Sciences. 2022, DOI: 10.1016 / j.applanim.2021.105529).

The researchers recorded videos of dogs eager to get a tasty piece, and documented whether the dogs directed each sound to food or to the owner. They then classified the vocalizations into familiar buckets such as barking, whining and whining, which, according to Lego Newscripts, the team from time to time had to demonstrate to each other in the lab to make sure everyone was on one page.

Among other things, they found that dogs whined and whimpered more at their owners than at food, and in total the dogs directed about two-thirds of their votes at the owner.

“Dogs learn,” Ghana says, but she wouldn’t call their vocalization the language as such. However, research shows that dogs don’t think their owners look like sliced ​​liver.

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