Dogs care about what we say and how we say it.
A Hungarian research group recently published the first study ever to investigate how dogs’ brains process speech. The findings proved that dog brains are a lot more similar to human brains than previously thought.
The human brain processes speech in two ways. The left side of the brain focuses on word meaning, while the right side of the brain focuses on intonation, or the rise and fall and pitch of the voice. The human brain separately analyzes word meaning and intonation, then analyzes both together for further comprehension.
Dog brains do exactly the same thing. “Our findings suggest that dogs can also do all that, and they use very similar brain mechanisms," said researcher Attila Andics of Department of Ethology and MTA-ELTE Comparative Ethology Research Group in Budapest.
This means that dogs that grow up in a verbose household understand a lot of what is said. It also suggests that dogs have the ability to learn so much more than typical household commands “stay”, “sit”, and “paw”.
To measure brain activity in dogs, several pups were trained to "lay completely motionless in an fMRI brain scanner". This non-invasive technology allowed the researchers to analyze dog brain activity in response to verbal cues and commands.
Imagine how much more our dogs would understand us if taught more verbal commands and phrases?