New Research: Scientists Learned How Much An Average Dog Understands
Dogs can recognize up to 215 words and phrases, research reveals.
Researchers say dogs can understand words including water, park, cat, and gently.
A question that dog owners have been wondering about since these animals were first domesticated:
Does my dog understand me?
And according to a new study, dogs are able to understand more than many of us think.
Canadian researchers who studied 165 dogs and their owners found that they responded to between 15 and 215 words and phrases.
On average, the pets that participated in the study could understand 89 words - the same number as an 18-month-old baby.
Researchers Catherine Reeve and Sophie Jacques of the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Dalhousie linked the ability of animals to learn with their close relationship with humans.
“Because of their evolutionary history and close association with humans, domestic dogs have learned to respond to human verbal and nonverbal cues on a level far better than other species.”
The research concluded that dogs were particularly good at responding to commands, as opposed to negative phrases.
Almost all dogs responded to their own name and basic commands like come, lie down, stay, wait, no, good, and leave.
Most dogs would wag their tails when they heard positive phrases like “good girl” or “good boy,” while only a small minority would respond to less common commands such as “whisper” or “loud.”
Research has published a list of words to which dogs respond consistently.
That list includes a number of phrases that most of us can expect, like “watch” and “sit down” - along with a few more surprising examples, including “vacuum cleaner,” “lake,” and “peanut butter.”
"Dogs seem to differ greatly not only in number but also in the types of words they constantly respond to,"
the researchers said.
And while some dog owners may disagree, researchers have acknowledged that animals may have simply learned to respond correctly to the words and commands they hear - without having to fully understand their meaning.
Research and dog owners disagree in many ways. What do you think? Do our dogs understand us?
World Dog Finder team