Are actually dogs simply hearing us, or are dogs listening to us when we talk?

Boston Dog Trainer

The second we pay attention to a person talking, we hear some sounds that combine to make words and other sounds that communicate such things as the speaker’s feelings and gender. The left hemisphere of our brain manages the first task, while the right hemisphere specializes in the second. Dogs also have this kind of hemispheric bias when listening to the sounds of other dogs. Do they have it with human sounds?

To figure out, a couple of researchers had dogs sit facing two speakers. The researchers then played a recorded short sentence–“Come on, then”– and watched which way the dogs turned. When the animals heard recordings in which individual words were strongly emphasized, they turned to the right– indicating that their left hemispheres were engaged.

When they listened to recordings that had exaggerated intonations, they turned to the left– a sign that the right hemisphere was responding. Thus, dogs seem to process the elements of speech very similarly to the way humans do, the scientists report online today in Current Biology. According to the researchers, the findings support the idea that our canine pals are indeed paying close attention not only to who we are and how we say things, but also to what we say.

All of us talk to our dogs, although some of us prefer to wait until no one’s around. We know our dogs hear us– their ears perk up and we pretend they know what’s up every time we tell them they’re just the best dog in the whole world.

New research from the University of Sussex has found that dogs process speech they recognize in a similar manner to humans, meaning that sounds they recognize are processed in their brain’s left hemisphere, while other sounds or uncommon noises are processed in the right hemisphere. Because of the way the brain is “wired”, dogs will move their head to the opposite side of the side that’s doing the processing. Having speech and sound processed differently by the brain’s two hemispheres is very similar to how people process speech.

According to the university, this means that dogs are focusing on how we say things, who is speaking and what we’re saying. This doesn’t mean that dogs can understand the language you’re speaking and react accordingly, but dogs can recognize sounds and what they mean. Different commands like “sit” or “stay”.

Dogs also have this type of hemispheric bias when paying attention to the sounds of other dogs. New research study from the University of Sussex has found that dogs process speech they recognize in a similar manner to humans, meaning that sounds they identify are processed in their brain’s left hemisphere, while other sounds or unusual sounds are processed in the right hemisphere. This doesn’t mean that dogs can comprehend the language you’re communicating and react accordingly, but dogs can identify sounds and what they mean.