How Do Dogs Understand Their Owners?

How do dogs understand their owners?
How Do Dogs Understand Their Owners?

Last update: 16 July, 2018


Everyone who understands dogs will know that these animals develop a reasoning that is beyond our comprehension. Dog owners often tell their pets, “It is as if you understand me!” Or, “I wish you could talk!” For any doubters–yes! Dogs do understand their owners and they have the proven ability to understand what they are told.

Dogs do resemble their masters

Dogs understand people

There is another common phrase to tell us that dogs resemble their masters. The similarity could be inside the brain and in the way language is processed, and goes beyond physical or behavioral similarities.

To test this hypothesis, specialists from the University of Eötvös Lónard in Budapest scanned the brains of seven dogs, who were specially trained to listen to a series of words from their trainers. Throughout the test, the dogs remained motionless inside the MRI machine.

The study’s conclusion made all dog lovers smile. The language processing system of the dog, works exactly the same as in the human brain.

Dogs understand more than just what they are told. They are also able to identify what the person means and the intentions when giving a command.

Beyond spoken language, dogs understand our meaning

In addition to mentally associating words with their significance, dogs have the ability to process a wide range of messages. People emit messages through their gestures, signals, facial expressions and even unconscious, involuntary responses.

Scientifically, it has also been shown that dogs understand feelings. Dogs are able to identify when a person is despondent or lonely, and many times they try to offer comfort. They can also identify joy. In fact, when they observe their masters as happy, they automatically feel that same sense of well-being.

On the other hand, scientists have established that when a dog owner points his finger at something, the animal automatically focuses his attention on that object. Dogs never stare at the owner’s pointed finger.

They are also able to relate a voice to a face. In the case of their masters, dogs never get it wrong. They also know how to discern if the speaker is male or female.

A vocabulary of 160 words or phrases

Scientists in the United Kingdom and Canada have determined that dogs understand an average of 160 words or phrases. A dog can even expand his vocabulary to above 200 words, with training and practice.

Anyone with a puppy knows that among the first thing a dog learns is a phrase relating to dog walking. Some examples of these phrases are, “Let’s go out!” Or, “Where is your leash?“. Plenty of dogs also pretend to not understand their masters, when given commands such as, “Bath time!” When they do hear that command, many dogs will go into hiding.

A dog only needs to hear a word once to memorize it, particularly when the word relates to a highly emotional experience (positive or negative).

For this same reason, many veterinarians advise owners to not use the dog’s name when scolding their pet. The dog can end up associating their name with negative experiences and may stop coming when called.

It is also important to keep in mind that dogs do not understand irony or contradictory messages. A dog will be confused if his owner scolds him with a smile and a happy tone, when using negative keywords such as. “No.” “Quiet.” “Release.”

A dog’s reason and rationality resembles that of a child aged, two and a half years. Therefore, be as clear and precise as possible when you give commands and make sure the command does not have variants.

An innate or learned ability?

So far, no study has categorically proven how a dog understands what it is told. It could be due to a genetic condition present in certain mammals. Alternatively, centuries of domestication could have fostered this capacity.

Dog lovers know that their pets, although they do not have spoken language, have strong communication systems. This does not require training or special teaching. In addition to providing love and gaining your dog’s trust, you do have to pay attention. Dogs are always saying something.