Dogs Understand Human Language And Tone: UK Research

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Frida, A Female Chihuahua, Is Carried By Her Owner Dean Clark In City Hall
Frida, a female Chihuahua, is carried by her owner Dean Clark in City Hall before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors issues a special commendation naming Frida "Mayor of San Francisco for a Day" in San Francisco, California November 18, 2014. Frida, a previously unknown female Chihuahua, has won her first political office, being named Mayor of San Francisco for the day as part of a campaign to support the city's animal shelter. Reuters/Stephen Lam

Dogs understand what people say. Science confirms what dog lovers have long been claiming about "man's best friend."

According to a study conducted by UK scientists, dogs are capable of understanding what people say, how people say it and who is saying it. The research revealed the brain of a dog can process different commands. The right hemisphere of a dog's brain focuses on tone, while the left one on the meaning of a common command. The report of the research provided some of the first proof of how the canines process and differentiate several components of human speech.

Victoria Ratcliffe of the School of Psychology at the University of Sussex said dogs would react to both verbal- and speaker-related information. However, it is not possible to say how much dogs understand or the way it understands information in speech from the study, she said. She also said that different functions related to different information would work in different parts of a dog's brain. Business Insider reported that the researcher, on the other hand, did not claim that dogs understood everything humans spoke. Neither does the research claim that dogs have a human-like capability of language. Ratcliffe said that dogs would pay attention not only to who the speaker was and how people would say things, but also to what was said.

The age-old debate about a dog's ability to understand their master may well have been answered. Live Science reported that dogs would heel, shake paws, sit and snuggle as a response to what their human friends commanded. Skeptics have always doubted dog lovers' claim that their dog understood everything they said. The recent study may have revealed that the truth lies somewhere in between. While doubters argue that a dog can only follow the tone of a human and other non-verbal cues, this research shows that dogs are far more capable than how they may have been perceived.

However, the tricky part for a human is to find out which word their dog understands and the ones they don't. Dog lovers are often blamed for overestimating the emotional capabilities of their dogs. One research revealed that dogs felt no guilt when they showed "sad-puppy" look after doing something "bad."

Contact the writer: s.mukhopadhyay@ibtimes.com.au

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