It turns out that dogs do know exactly what we’re saying

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  • We love finding out more about our pet pooches – whether it’s what they dream about (very cute, by the way) or the fact that puppies are actually middle aged.

    But did you know that your dog actually knows what you’re talking about? Yep, whether or not they decide to listen is another thing, but according to a new study, one thing is for certain – they know.

    Researchers at the University of Sussex found that dogs identify when someone new speaks and when they’ve said a new word.

    Scientists worked with 42 domestic dogs and noticed that the canines could spontaneously recognise the same word even when it was spoken by different people – including humans they didn’t know.

    ‘Until now, the spontaneous ability to recognise vowel sounds when spoken by different people was considered to be uniquely human,’ said research lead Dr Holly Root-Gutteridge.

    ‘But many dog owners believe their dogs can learn a word from one person and recognise it when spoken by a second or third person.

    ‘We wanted to test if dogs can recognise the same phonemes – the little sounds that make up words – when spoken by different people, ignoring the differences in accent and pronunciation.’

    Dr Root-Gutteridge added: ‘The ability to recognise words as the same when spoken by different people is critical to speech.

    ‘This research shows that, despite previous assumptions, this spontaneous ability is not uniquely human and that dogs share this linguistic talent, suggesting that speech perception may not be as special to humans as we previously thought.’


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