Why your pet may actually understand what you’re saying

Okay, we admit it; we have conversations with our pets. Call us crazy, but they are great listeners! Surely it can’t just be us? However, you might be in luck as your pets may actually understand what you’re saying after all. Hopefully, they don’t remember all those secrets from the office or the gossip we have told them over the years…

The study

There are several pets all across the world from fish to horses, but one fan of four-legged animals was determined to get to the bottom of her canine question: could Attila Andics’ dog understand what she was saying? The first hurdle was going to be the hardest as Attila needed to train all thirteen dogs (one Chinese crested, one German shepherd, four golden retrievers, and six border collies) to remain completely still. This way the scientists would be able to put the dogs into an MRI machine where they could measure their brainwaves.

Secrets of the mind

The study shows that dogs use the left hemisphere of their brain when they first hear any words. This is the side of the mind that helps them understand what has just been said. However, the right hemisphere also plays a huge role when it comes to understanding the brains of these animals. On this side, dogs will decide whether they have been given praise or whether the words were said with a neutral tone. It might seem simple, but there is far more to it.

Who’s a good boy?

The dogs were placed into the MRI machine and played recordings of their owners asking if they were a “good boy” in various ways. They were asked as if it was praise, asked in a neutral voice, asked in multiple languages, and even asked over the phone. The dogs then had their brains scanned after every time they heard the question. Would the results show that our pets may actually understand what we’re saying?

Figuring it out

Amazingly, the scans showed that these dogs were using both halves of their brains to figure out what their owners were asking. The results showed that when the owners spoke to their dogs in a praising way, a unique part of their brain was ignited. The reward section of their mind. Now the dogs were flooded with pleasurable emotions as they knew they had done well.

Do other animals understand?

The initial study was only performed on dogs, but the scientists have been researching the effects our conversations could have on our other pets. It seems as though most dogs will do anything to please their owners. However, other animals, such as cats, may understand us but simply not care enough to try and figure out what we are saying. Maybe this is just one more reason dogs are thought to be man’s best friend?

Perhaps all those conversations weren’t in vain after all. But what about the other way around? We’re now living for the communication device that lets us hear what they’re saying after so long. We can but hope it might come one day…