Can Dogs Understand Different languages? 3 Interesting Facts

Smart dog with glasses-can dogs understand different languages

Are you a dog person? If the answer is yes, there’s another question! Have you ever stopped to think, “can dogs understand different languages?” To be honest, we have! Sometimes, we get really curious about what they can understand. In recent years the purchase and adoption of pets have increased significantly. According to the European Pet Food Industry Federation (FEDIAF), 90 million European households (46%) own pets in Europe; that’s a lot of pets. This increase in pet ownership has caused owners to become more and more aware of their furry babies’ well-being and abilities.

Currently, we are experiencing an increase in pet humanization culture. As a result, owners are investing significantly more in services such as daycare, grooming, and training schools. Furthermore, there are already institutions dedicated to understanding how dogs communicate with humans and how associative learning influences their communication abilities. 

Considering we spend a lot of time learning languages and connecting with others through them, we wonder if dogs can distinguish languages or not. Can our lovely canine family members determine if we speak to them in different tongues? Let’s see what scientists have to say!

Can Dogs Respond To Multiple Languages?

Studies have shown that dogs’ brains can detect natural speech and differentiate between languages. A study titled “Speech naturalness detection and language representation in the dog brain,” published in the journal NeuroImage, examined, through functional magnetic resonance imaging, the brain activity of 18 dogs after hearing a story read in two languages. One of the languages is the native language of their owners (Hungarian), and the other is a foreign language (Spanish). These studies were conducted by the specialist Laura V Cuaya, psychologist and researcher, along with other research colleagues.

Researchers reported changes in the brain activity of these dogs. When listening to a familiar and unfamiliar language, different areas of the cortex were activated. They could identify auditory patterns associated with the language they’re familiar with; although they cannot communicate in a human language, they recognize it. Moreover, they can distinguish between the language they hear at home and another language they are unfamiliar with. Another factor highlighted in the research is that older dogs were better at distinguishing between familiar and unfamiliar languages. Therefore answering the above question, it is fair to say that dogs can respond to commands in two languages. 

dogs looking at-blue-sky-Can Dogs Understand Different languages

What Language Is Easiest For Dogs To Understand?

It is not possible to provide a concrete answer to this question. Dogs pay much more attention to our tone and body language than our words. Our body language tells them what we want them to do and what we do not want them to do. However, English is more commonly used in training due to its short and simple words, which can be very quickly associated with a particular behavior; therefore, the commands were standardized in that language. Nevertheless, languages such as German are used in some places because they allow dogs to learn specific commands easily, as well.

Is It Good To Teach A Dog Commands In Two Languages?

The practice of training dogs in a language other than the one spoken at home is becoming increasingly common in today’s society. It’s because training our dogs in a new language has some benefits. In particular, it reduces the likelihood that the dog will confuse commands with everyday conversational interactions. As previously stated, languages like English and German are often very convenient.

Another advantage of training the dog in another language is that it prevents using different words to give the same command. Sometimes owners use multiple synonyms of the same word, which confuses the dog.

When training the dog in another language, it becomes a habit to use specific words for certain commands, and our pets also understand that we are clearly addressing them. However, the intonation is another critical point, apart from the language. Therefore, it is necessary to adjust the modulation of the voice and intonate the commands appropriately.

As we can see, our furry friends are more intelligent than we could imagine. While it is true that more studies and research are needed to confirm how much they can distinguish one language from another, it is also true that we already have evidence that, to some extent, they can do it. So if you are learning a new language like English, German, or even French, it is an excellent opportunity to practice your vocabulary with your lovely pet. Then, try training your puppy in one of those languages; it will be a fun and rewarding way for both of you. 

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