Decoding 'dognition': Can dogs understand human language?

Web Desk
February 21, 2024

Chaser, a standout canine, became an emblem of dognition by learning the names of over 1,000 objects

Chaser the Border Collie became well-known for her impressive dognition.—Instagramchaserthebordercollie

Pet owners have often pondered the depth of their furry friends' comprehension of human language, a phenomenon known as "dognition."

According to Inside Your Dog’s Mind, scientific studies, led by Dr Brian Hare, an evolutionary anthropologist at Duke University, challenge sceptics, revealing that dogs possess a remarkable ability to grasp the intricacies of human communication.

Chaser, a standout canine, became an emblem of dognition by learning the names of over 1,000 objects, showcasing extraordinary linguistic capabilities. Dr Hare emphasises that dogs understand more than commonly believed, stating, "Dogs understand more than we give them credit for."

Across the Atlantic, researchers Dr Alex Benjamin and Dr Katie Slocombe from the University of York delved into the impact of human speech on canine response.

Their study, involving 37 adult dogs, demonstrated a preference for "dog speak" – a blend of dog-related content and an animated, enthusiastic voice. The research underscores the importance of tone, echoing the concept of "baby talk" in human-infant bonding.

Beyond language comprehension, dognition extends to body language interpretation. Whether working or not, dogs exhibit a remarkable ability to read human gestures, interpreting them as cooperative communication, as noted by Dr Hare.

The evolving research in this field provides valuable insights into the nuanced ways dogs engage with and understand their human companions.


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