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Does your dog understand what you are saying?
Sometimes my dog takes instructions that are not meant for him. Do you think dogs hear what we are saying? Do you have similar experiences to share?
I think my dog Angus understands what I say. He might not understand in the languages that I speak to him but I think through the sounds of my voice. Even if I speak to him in my mother language or in English and German, he still reacts the same. So, I suppose dogs are not really stupid as what I heard from other people.
I think it depends on the breed and how intelligent they are. We have a German shepherd who seems to understand a lot of words. We have a lab that doens't really care what we are saying, he just is filled with joy, and we have a Leonberger. Leonbergers are rumored to be intelligent, but we haven't see it yet. He just has a very sweet blank look on his face most of the time.
but all three are loved like crazy.
My dogs understand about 200 - 300 commands. However, do they understand exactly what I'm saying? I guess that depends on what you mean.
Dogs do understand vocal tone. So if I'm angry, even if I don't use words they know, they can tell by the tone of my voice. If I'm happy, even if I don't use words they know, they can tell by the tone of my voice.
Also what most people don't realize is that dogs are KINGS of non verbal communication. Even the slightest lowering of your shoulders when you are discouraged or sad is read by your dogs. Everything from the slightest movement of a finger to how wide your eyes are can be read and interpreted by your dog.
In agility, where we are guiding our dogs around an obstacle course at squirrel chasin' speed, they can read in a millisecond when we ask for a change of direction or speed or ask for collection, etc. Most of the cues are non verbal.
So if I'm "talking" to my dogs about a bad day, sitting on the sofa with my shoulders dropped, a sad look on my face, my voice sounding sad, they would have no idea exactly what I'm saying. But they would easily know I'm sad.
Now if you drop in a command or two they know, it will clear things up even more for them. So let's say I'm sitting on the sofa talking to my dogs about how beautiful it is "outside," and how I'd really like to go "outside" in this lovely weather and "play" "Frisbee" and possibly later some "agility." Well, every word in quotes is a cue to my dogs. They absolutely know then that I'm talking about going out to play some of their favorite games!!!
The more you interact with your dogs, the better they become at picking out words and emotions. When you think that we, the supposed smarter beings, are asking THEM to learn to read us and speak our language, it's quite amazing what they do. I mean, shouldn't WE learn their language? (BTW, you can learn their language, and it is very fascinating after you do. ) They are incredible animals!!
Many dogs are trained to react to certain words so if you just say those words "sit" "stay" "lay down" they'll do the action you have taught them.
But it seems that if you talk to your dog all the time and have normal conversations with them I think they can pick up on phrases and will sort of learn to understand you. My dog seems to understand me pretty well when I'm just talking to her.
My dog likes to sleep on my bed and understands when "get" means "get off the bed" and when I just mean "move over." It's pretty cool.
From my experience (and not professional by any means), my husband and I have tested this theory to be true and false.
While - yes - you can teach your dog certain terms (commands) that he will recognize after repetitiveness, treats for obeying them, and your encouragement or discouragement on how he behaves toward these words, but we've also done a test on our dog to see if it more what we say, or how we say it. The tone of our voices made all the difference.
We laughed at doing this, but once in a while we would chirp in a cheery voice with a smile on our face 'whose a stupid dog, yes your a dumb dog' while petting our dog. She had no clue what we were saying and her response was wagging her tail and jumping on us with joy and excitment. Then we would say 'good girl, your a good girl' in a very low, disapproving voice to which she would cower in saddness.
I'm sure as each human takes words their own way, dogs may as well. Not sure, that's just our experience.
Yes, you can say negative things in a cheery voice and the dog will be happy and the opposite. However, if your dog knew well the words you were using, it would react to the words more than the tone. My dogs are happy to hear "good dog" said low.
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