Dogs can understand human speech, new study finds
We’ve all felt it: that special connection with our furry friend, like they just *get* us. And it turns out, they really might. A new study published in the journal Science shows that dogs can understand both the meaning and intonation of human speech, and respond accordingly.
The study, conducted by a team of Hungarian researchers, looked at how 13 dogs of various breeds reacted to three different types of speech:
• Neutral: “Hi there!”
• Encouraging: “Good dog!”
• Commanding: “Sit!”
The dogs were played recordings of each type of speech, and their reactions were monitored. The researchers found that the dogs responded differently to the three types of speech, indicating that they could understand both the meaning and intonation of the words.
For example, the dogs tended to approach the speaker when they heard encouraging speech, but backed away when they heard commanding speech. This shows that they could tell the difference between the two types of speech, and respond accordingly.
What’s more, the dogs also showed signs of understanding when the meaning of the words contradicted the intonation. For instance, if a dog was played a recording of a person saying “Good dog!” in a flat, neutral tone, they were less likely to approach the speaker than if they heard the same phrase said in a warm, enthusiastic tone. This suggests that they could tell that the meaning of the words (good dog) and the intonation (neutral) didn’t match, and responded accordingly.
This is the first study to show that dogs can understand both the meaning and intonation of human speech, and that they use this information to guide their own behaviour. The findings could have important implications for the way we communicate with our furry friends, and could help us to better understand how they communicate with us.
So the next time you’re having a conversation with your dog, remember that they just might be understanding more than you think!