Do dogs speak English? While dogs may not know by heart the entire Merriam Webster Dictionary, they have quite clearly demonstrated the ability of being able to understand the human language. Simply think of how many dogs have effectively learned to understand the words sit, stay, come, roll over, paw, drop it and much, much more.
Dogs are highly intelligent creatures. It does not really take long to teach them a new command. The word sit may be taught at a very young age often even early as 6-7 weeks. This command can be easily taught with a treat and some patience. When the dog is nearby, raising the treat up towards the dog will cause the dog to naturally sit. After repeating this action several times, dogs learn that in order to receive that mouth watery treat, they must sit.
The same goes with teaching the dog to come when its name is called or to teach a dog to give paw. All these responses are derived from a cause and effect action that most dogs are able to reach with their own intellectual abilities. In order to respond to a command a dog must think: “If I do this, I will get that”.
Dogs however, seem to respond more to the tone of voice than to the literal spelling and pronunciation of words. For instance, if one would say the word “zit” instead of “sit ” the dog will still respond. Whereas, if a human would tell another human to zit instead of sit, the human will refrain from sitting and appear confused. Some dogs however, have been able to demonstrate the ability to effectively distinguish close words from one another. These dogs have been trained to carefully listen to the word pronunciation before taking action.
The possibilities of teaching dogs words are quite endless. Dogs do not have to be limited to those dozen words owners and dogs are mostly familiar with. Some dogs have demonstrated to ability to learn as many as 300 words! Most owners are unaware of their dog’s learning capabilities. Often dogs are limited in their language simply because their owners have refrained from teaching them more.
One must consider though that a dog’s vocabulary is not only strictly words. They are quite sensitive and also learn to interpret body language, moods and facial expressions of their owners. It is not uncommon for dogs to show the ability to understand when an owner is sick, upset or excited. Sometimes it almost feels like dogs have extra sensorial abilities and are able to read humans quite easily.
As seen, dogs may be taught much more than the average commands. It is ultimately, up to the owner to teach them many more. A dog’s intelligence is often underestimated. Owners that believe they own very intelligent dogs often indeed have very intelligent dogs. Owners that on the other hand believe their dogs are simply four legged animals with little knowledge, often end up with limited dogs. The chances of teaching more words and tricks are out there, it simply takes an owner to acknowledge them and unveil their dog’s intelligence and take it one step further.