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Can dogs understand humans?

Updated on February 18, 2012

Well trained dogs would immediately act on the down, sit, fetch, stay and roll over commands. Others dogs would go a little further by performing tricks when asked to do so by the master. Dogs that can make simple additions and subtractions will always make the pet parent proud. Search and rescue dogs have made big leaps in helping people. A guide dog’s understanding of the needs of a disabled person is amazing. Does this mean that dogs can understand humans? In these instances… yes!

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How do dogs understand humans?

Dogs were not born already understanding the more or less 250 words in the human language. Dogs learn to understand what humans say pretty much the same as a two year old child…through association and through repetition. A dog will not know what the word “out” and “pee” means. By repeating the words and letting the dog out to do its business, the sound will be associated by the dog to the desired specific action.

Dogs are observers and imitators

Studies conducted on dog behavior and intelligence has shown that dogs can understand about 250 words. Dogs may have a very limited understanding of human vocabulary but it is more than made up by the dog’s perceptiveness. When it comes to understanding humans, dogs can be compared to a smart two year old child that can understand instructions and solve simple problems. The inability to talk is a handicap but dogs are very observant animals. The pet owner need not say anything to the dog. Simply by picking up the leash, the dog would know that it is walking time. Opening the kibble bin is a sign that the dog dish will be filled. Dogs are highly attuned to the feelings of the master as well. Notice how a dog will cower, often times with the tail hanging down, when you raised your voice to reprimand the pet for destroying your garden. Dogs understand human’s body language, the tone of the voice and the facial expression more than it understands the spoken language.

Do dogs really understand humans?

“Just a dog” is an anathema to a lot of dog owners. Dogs are highly valued…even considered as family members and credited with human-like behaviors. But let’s face it. Dogs are dogs, not humans and therefore they do not think the way humans do. A lot of dog owners would extol on the pet’s ability to understand humans. If this is so, how come dogs would still eat trash in spite of the repeated admonitions of the master? Telling the dog repeatedly not to chew the leg of an antique table will be a wasted effort especially if the smell of the resin on the table is exciting. Experts tell us that what the dog understands is the cause and effect of the action. For instance the dog would understand that when it acts on the roll over command of the master, it would receive a favorite treat.

Dogs are wonderful companions. Dogs may demonstrate behaviors that can be interpreted as comprehension by humans. These furry friends have certainly responded to human emotions by providing comfort and affection when comfort and affection are necessary. However, dogs are not humans, thus they should not be expected to have human reasoning.

can understand English

This dog understands English


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    • rich_hayles profile image

      rich_hayles 5 years ago

      To a degree I really agree, but I'm still not 100% convinced.