When we think about speech, we associate it strictly to human beings. Yeah, we can have a conversation and it can be great! But there are times when people blabber on so much that we wish they had an ‘on’ and ‘off’ switch…*sigh*
Sadly, that’s probably how your dog feels when you talk too much. That’s right, you might be underestimating the level of comprehension that your dog fluffy has!
Wait a minute, I thought dogs only respond to basic words such as “sit” or “fetch?” Not true. Dogs are also able to tell the variations between different words that are closely related such as ‘bed’ and ‘bid.’ They are also able to recognize a word even when it is spoken in a different accent.
In fact, a research study carried out by the University of Sussex on 70 dogs affirmed this by having the dogs listen to three of four different accents saying the same word. The dogs were most interested in the first and last voice that stated the word.
Dogs probably evolved the ability to distinguish between the growls and barks of other dogs to determine their size. They later used this trait to focus on our language once they were domesticated. As such, there are dogs out there that can respond to more than 70 varying commands!
During the study, the researchers used recordings of four different individuals with different accents. The first three said the same word to the pets, while the fourth altered the word to make it sound different.
When the first person stated the word, the dogs were very receptive, going as far as turning their heads to the direction of the speaker.
But the dogs seemed to lose interest in the second and third utterances. However, the fourth utterance of the word was altered in such a way that the speaker said ‘had’ instead of ‘hood’, and the dogs immediately paid attention!
From this response, scientists suggest that dogs have the ability to recognize the difference between short words that are communicated by individuals, regardless of the accent or change of voice that they use. Dogs can also respond to different commands and have a wide breadth of vocabulary contrary to what most people might expect.
Here’s the interesting thing. It is believed that the average dog can grasp over 160 words of a particular language. Which are enough words to hold a basic conversation!