Does My Dog Understand Me?

By Max. D Gray. Updated: January 16, 2017
Does My Dog Understand Me?

Does my dog understand me? This is perhaps one of the most common questions that dog owners ask, and it's an inevitable one when we notice that our dog can tell when we are sad and comes over to us to comfort us, that it knows when it has done something wrong by the tone of our voice, or that it understands that it's time to go out when we say certain words or perform certain actions. But how do I know if my dog understands me? In this article we explain the different factors that come into play to determine the level of understanding of these animals.

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Science shows that dogs understand us

We know that dogs, to be tamed and turned into pets, have had to evolve to understand human orders and to respond to them appropriately. This process is known as basic training, but apart from teaching your dog basic commands some owners say their dog understands them, know when they are sad, happy or worried, perceive if they have done something wrong by the tone of their owner's voice or respond to words which they have not been trained to respond to.

This observation is not a simple one made by dog lovers, dogs understand us and science has definitively proven this in a study published in Current Biology in which it was determined that both the left brain of dogs, which like ours is responsible for understanding words and phonemes, and the right brain, which perceives intonation or accent, work in a similar way to humans when we talk. Our pets can understand various components of the conversation, understanding a variety of words and working out our mood by the tone of what we say.

The research shows that in some breeds their understanding and their ability to solve problems could be similar to that of a 2 and a half year old child.

Does My Dog Understand Me? - Science shows that dogs understand us

Types of Dog Understanding

In what way does my dog understand me? In addition to newly disclosed details about the functioning of the cerebral hemispheres of the dog when we communicate with them, these pets have different types of understanding based on the different levels of canine intelligence. Expert in dog research Stanley Coren, the same expert who determined after extensive studies which dog breeds are smartest, shows three basic forms of canine intelligence:

  • Instinctive intelligence: when they act on instinct to solve problems or situations.
  • Adaptive intelligence: allows them to learn from their environment, adapting to their surroundings.
  • Obedience intelligence and training: when the animal is able to learn through training.

Based on this kind of intelligence the dog will be able to understand to a greater or lesser extent, responding to our orders or reacting in ways that sometimes surprise us.

Does My Dog Understand Me? - Types of Dog Understanding

The breed also has an influence

Although we know that dogs can understand us, it is important to make clear that the breed of the animal influences this process significantly. There are breeds with a greater predisposition to obedience and training, with a longer attention span to capture words. These dogs can also more effectively understand what we say than those breeds that are harder to train.

Does My Dog Understand Me? - The breed also has an influence

Dogs understand us, but they are not human

Knowing that your dog can actually perceive details such as your intonation or the way you behave in order to determine such complex issues as moods or expressions that interest them in a conversation is definitely amazing. But we must realize that our pets are not human so it is important that we train and control them so that we can coexist in a friendly way.

This will prevent future behavior problems caused by dogs that have not been trained or controlled in time, as just as animals can understand us, they are also experts at manipulating us in order to get what they want.

If you want to read similar articles to Does My Dog Understand Me?, we recommend you visit our Pets category.

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