Dogs Can Differentiate Between Familiar and Unfamiliar Human Languages

Dogs may be greedy, but they are intelligent. They are among the most popular pets across the globe. The majority of households in the country have pet dogs of different breeds. While house owners keep them for protective measures in the suburbs, others like to fulfill their pet desires with poodles. The answer is yes if you wonder whether dogs understand human languages.

Many believe that dogs or other pet animals can not understand the human language. If you see your neighbor talking to their pet dog every day, you might have liked the emotion behind it. However, it would be hard for you to believe that the dog understands his owner’s words.

A recent research study shows dogs can differentiate between different human languages. If you wonder how it is possible, we have all the information you may be interested in.

Can Dogs Understand Different Languages?

Dogs can differentiate between different human languages spoken across the globe. You may find pet dogs in the households of a country located in Europe. Similarly, a country situated in Asia may also have pet dogs in homes. With pet owners speaking different languages, dogs can identify their home language.

The research study targeted two sets of dogs from different areas. One group had Spanish-speaking pet owners, while the other set had Hungarian-speaking dog owners. When exposed to different languages, dogs responded to their home language, showing their ability to differentiate different languages.

It is worth noting that differentiation of languages may not be limited to dogs alone. Other pet animals may show the same kind of response when exposed to different languages. Generally, people opt for dogs as their pet animals. You may find different uses for dogs depending upon their breed.

The Role of Temporal Cortex

If you wonder how dogs can understand the difference between two languages, you may want to learn about the role of the temporal cortex. The temporal cortex is a portion of the dog’s brain near its ears. It helps the dog to identify the incoming auditory signals every time a dog owner speaks.

The temporal cortex has two parts responsible for different roles. The primary auditory cortex is responsible for distinguishing between speech and noises. On the other hand, the secondary auditory cortex plays a crucial role in developing the familiarity or unfamiliarity of a speech.

When dogs live in a specific domestic environment, they develop familiarity with the local language using their secondary auditory cortex. They grow up and play in the local setting. This domestication allows them to understand the local language by hearing specific words repeatedly.

For example, if a dog owner in the U.S. calls his dog by speaking the word ‘come’ several times a day, the dog may familiarize the word and associate meaning with it. Now, if the dog owner takes it to a different location, the dog may not respond to other people’s commands due to unfamiliarity. However, the pet is more likely to respond as soon as it hears the call of its owner.

The Role of Secondary Auditory Cortex in Older dogs

The age of dogs determines their ability to familiarize themselves with languages. Younger dogs are more likely to grow in a specific domestic environment. Their secondary auditory cortex may have less activity when exposed to different languages.

On the other hand, older dogs are more likely to be exposed to different environments. If a dog grows in a specific domestic area of the U.S., it may develop familiarity with the local language. However, taking the same dog to another country and living there may help it familiarize the local language of that place.

Due to exposure to different languages, the dog may show more activity in its secondary auditory cortex. It may be able to differentiate between the two languages better than its younger counterparts.

Dogs can refine their sense of identifying different human languages over the years. If you have had a dog for several years, you may test its ability by exposing it to another language speaker in your area.

How Much Human Language Do Dogs Understand?

Dogs may be sharp in familiarizing the difference between their home and foreign language. However, they may not be able to understand the minor details. Dogs are unable to comprehend the phonetic elements of a speech. While it may seem like they know exactly what you tell them, the truth may surprise you.

According to recent research, dogs can only familiarize the sounds of the instruction words. If you speak two words with similar sounds, the dog may respond to each the same way. For example, if you instruct your dog to ‘sit,’ it may follow your instruction and act accordingly. While this may be true, using a similar word like ‘sip’ may sound the same as ‘sit’ to your dog.

Similarly, if you instruct your dog to ‘come,’ it will likely follow its meaning. However, replacing the instruction word with ‘crumb’ may not make any difference. Your dog will probably respond to it the same way as it does to ‘come.’

The speech comprehension process in dogs is quick. They tend to respond promptly according to their understanding. Due to this prompt response, dogs often miss minute details, including the difference between similar-sounding words.

The non-detailed phonetic identification of words in dogs is the same as in kids about 12-14 months. They can only understand the sounds of a few simple and easy words. You may notice them mistaking another word for the same meaning quite often.

The Takeaway

It won’t be wrong to say that dogs understand human languages. While this may be correct, they struggle with distinguishing between similar-sounding words. If you have a pet dog that responds well to your instructions, you may try using different words with the same sounds to test its ability of phonetic recognition.

If you want to train your dog to respond to your instructions, you can find some of the many ways online for pet speech recognition.