Veterinarian-written / veterinarian-approved articles for your dog.

Use Your Voice and Body Language to Make Your Dog Happy

Dogs use the same brain pathways for communication as humans do.

For thousands of years, dogs and humans have worked and lived together. Researchers are interested in how this special relationship works across species as well as it does.

A recent study looked into how dogs interpret human communication.

Dogs Use Both Brain Hemispheres to Interpret Human Speech

It's known that, when humans listen to each other speak, their brains evaluate the words, the tone in which the words are said, and the person's concurrent body language to determine the speaker's meaning.

In this study on 13 dogs, MRI was used to analyze their brain function while their trainers spoke to them (A. Andics, 2016). The dogs were able to leave any time they no longer wished to participate.

The researchers found that dogs use the same parts of their brains as humans do to evaluate words and tone of voice.

The scans also showed that the reward center of the dogs' brains responded more when praise words were used with an upbeat tone of voice than when they were delivered in a neutral tone.

Whether or not your dog actually understands the meaning of the words you use still isn't known, but they do learn to associate familiar words with their proper meaning, whether or not the tone of voice matches that meaning. Still, they respond even better if the tone does match the meaning.

Dogs and Humans Can Communicate

The results of this study validated what most dog owners already know; over time, our dogs come to understand what we say and how we say it.

Take a look at this related article, "Petting vs. Praise: Which Does a Dog Like Best?"

Works Cited

  1. A. Andics, A. G. (2016, Sept. 2). Neural mechanisms for lexical processing in dogs. Retrieved from DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf3777

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