Dog owners and dog lovers have always known that their furry friends understood them. The bond between dogs and humans is close, and since the dawn of that relationship millions of years ago, pet owners have used their voices to give commands. Still, there were always skeptics who claimed that at least some of that emotional bond is more or less imagination on the part of the human half of the relationship. Some people insist that dogs react based solely on instinct, and that anything beyond that is fantasy.
Recent studies, though, back up what pet owners have always felt. When it comes to dogs and speech, it's not just a fond delusion for overly affectionate dog owners. There's hard science behind the idea.
Clinical Studies Prove It
A clinical study used MRI technology to measure -- and then conclude -- that dogs share with humans the fact that there are areas of the brain that are sensitive to vocal cues. In fact, dog and human brains react in a roughly similar way when they hear words spoken. Another, more recent, study went further to find that dogs respond not just to the voice, but to intonation. It's not just what we say, in other words, they actually pick up on how we say it and the tone of voice.
Sophisticated Language Processing
It gets even more complex than that. Dogs can tell the difference between various sounds that humans make, and they know the actual meaning of many words. Apparently, the whole process is pretty sophisticated. Dogs use the left side of the brain to process the voices they hear -- just like humans. They use the right side, though, to figure out what the tone of your voice and also the word itself means.
The studies also confirmed another fact that dog owners already knew by heart -- your beloved companion loves it when you tell them they're a good boy or girl, and you really mean it. We've been talking to dogs for about 100 million years, so it's great to know science has finally confirmed that we haven't just been talking to ourselves.