Can dogs really understand humans?
Can you imagine if one day a dog could suddenly speak, what would it say? Obviously, this hypothesis is unlikely to come true, but understanding our words may still be possible. Many people think that dogs can respond to their owners' words because of their tone of voice or habits. Because they cannot speak, there is still controversy as to whether they can actually understand our language.
People who have owned dogs should have had this experience. There is always a moment in daily life when the dog seems to understand what we are saying. So can dogs understand humans or not? The answer is no.
The dog's sense of smell
Dogs are a species with a very acute sense of smell. Their brain is only 1/10 of a human ' s, but the part that controls smell is 40 times bigger than a human's. They have 300 million scent glands in their noses, compared to 5 million in human noses, which is 60 times more than humans. This allows them to perceive many energy and physical and chemical changes in the body that humans can't perceive.
Dogs can smell the secretion level and concentration of human glands and hormones and can smell the speed of blood and body fluid flow, and the slight changes in human heartbeat, pulse, and sweat can be sensed by dogs. These physical and chemical changes in the human body are the expression of tension, fear, sadness, pain, calmness, confidence, happiness, relaxation, and various emotions and feelings.
Roland University, Hungary had an experiment: scanned dogs using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine and recorded their brains after hearing the trainer speak. They played nearly 200 sounds to stimulate the dogs. These sounds could be divided into three main categories: similar barking sounds, human sounds and meaningless noise.
The results showed that not only did the dogs' brain activity increase when they heard similar sounds, but human voices also excited their brains, but meaningless sounds did not. For example, when dogs heard meaningless words such as "however" and "but", they processed them with their left brain regardless of the tone.
How did scientists come to the conclusion?
Dogs can't speak and we can't communicate with them verbally, so how did scientists find out that they can listen to human speech, but do not understand it at all?
Researchers said they found a lot of similar, but completely different meanings, or meaningless words, they were played to dogs, and through EEG technology to analyze when they hear these words, the brain in the recording. As a result, although the dogs were listening to the words, their brains showed that they simply could not distinguish the differences between the words. For some high-frequency words like down, stand, sit, and eat, it is true that on a biological level, conditioned reflexes can be formed. So with these commands, we cannot be sure whether the dog understands semantics or whether it is a conditioned reflex formed by repetitive training.
But all responses from dogs are not due to conditioned reflexes, such as warm comfort when their owners are sad, which at least proves that they can feel their owners' emotions. Therefore, dogs can analyze and understand the semantic meaning by combining the tone of voice, behavior, and expression of their owners.
So, the dog is unable to understand what you are saying. It is just because living with the dog for a long time, it does sense the state of the owner from some emotions and behaviors, making the owner feel as if the dog understands us and understands our words. But in fact, the dog is still responsive and cognizant of those commands that are related to it and that we have taught it.
If we want them to know more, let the dog keep learning. Although they can't really understand what we say means, they will understand what we say in their own way and relate the relevant behavior.