Dog lovers the world over would love to be able to better communicate with their furry companions. If nothing else, it could make house training so much easier and less messy. Dogs are capable of understanding some human vocabulary, and can be trained to respond to those commands. “Sit,” “come,” and “stay” are only the tip of the iceberg with dog training, as service and police dogs learn and respond to a much wider range of verbal prompts and commands.
Molecular Biologist and genomics researcher Adriana Heguy explores the concept of dog’s language comprehension and the limits of complexity in human to dog communication, according to Forbes. Heguy said, “Dogs live in a world of smells and scents that we cannot even begin to imagine, because our sense of smell is pitiful compared to that of a dog, about forty times less sensitive. Our dogs must have already figured out that we are pretty clueless when it comes to smell.”
So, short of creating an artificial nose that allows humans to decipher exactly what a dog is smelling at the time, another method of communication is needed. It comes down to speech and hand gestures. Incredibly enough, according to Heguy, a scientific paper showed that a Border Collie named Rico learned over two hundred words, definitively showing that dogs are capable of understanding speech.
New research shows dogs use the same brain regions as humans to interpret words and voice intonations. This is further scientific proof that dogs have the “brain mechanisms necessary for processing language.” It also indicates that dogs have what was once thought a uniquely human ability to understand word intonation, also called lexical processing. So while humans are unique in inventing words, word meaning, and usage, the capacity to process words is not unique to humans.
Understanding this concept allows researchers to develop more efficient methods to teach animals like dogs words and meanings, and to develop technology to make interspecies communication a reality. There is still much to be done to utilize this newly found knowledge and to develop the technology to leverage it, but there seems to be plenty of interest in the research and development.
So, maybe sometime soon, the technology will be developed to easily help your dog understand you.