We all talk to our dogs, and most of the time, we talk to them like they are also like human beings. We know that our dogs are being attentive to us, when we see their ears are perked up.
But, are dogs really listening to us when we speak or do we just hear us out? Do they listen to us when we tell them to stop barking or command them to stop chewing on shoes? Do they really listen and understand or just hear sound stimulus that is our voice?
Most of dog owners believe that dogs respond to voice tone, but do not necessarily understand and grasp the words. This indicates that the manner of speaking greatly affects the attentiveness of dogs, that the voice tone is important and that the content of the words do not matter. However, several scientific research reveals that dogs really do understand words and that they really listen to the words we say.
In an experiment led by Ratcliffe and Reby (2014), results showed that dogs attend to both speech and emotional content of human. The results of their study also indicated that dogs show hemispheric specialization when processing speech, just like how human beings do. Dogs process meaning of speech and emotional content, in a similar manner human beings do.
Another researched published in the journal Science have further explored this phenomenon by using an imaging technology that allowed to see the brain activities of dogs as the listened to their trainer’s voice. The results showed that the reward pathway in their brain lit up when they heard praise words spoken in an approving intonation, but neither when with praise words spoken in a flat tone or with random words spoke in an approving tone. This processing is similar to that of human beings, where meaning is usually processed in the left hemisphere of the brain while intonation in the right hemisphere.
Indeed, scientific researches confirms that dogs do not just hear sound stimuli that is our voices, but they really listen to and process the words we say.