Say “sit” to your dog, and if it’s good, it might put your ass on the floor. But if the word is said by a stranger or someone with a strong accent, will it respond correctly? A new study suggests that it will. The researchers say dogs perceive words in a complex way, which has long been thought to be unique to humans.
“It’s a very interesting discovery. Tecumseh Fitch, an expert in vertebrate communication at the University of Vienna who was not involved in the study, said.
The way people pronounce depends on gender, age and even social status. Some unknown neural mechanisms allow people to filter out differences in accents and pronunciations and help understand spoken words, regardless of who the speaker is. Animals such as the plethora, dragon cats and macaques can be trained to do so, but so far only humans have proved to be born.
In the new study, Holly Root-Gutteridge, a cognitive biologist at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England, and colleagues conducted a test to prove that dogs can recognize other dogs by barking. The researchers videotaped 42 different breeds of dogs, sitting next to their owners next to an audio speaker, playing six monosyllabic, non-command words, similar sounds such as “eat”, “hit” and “who.” These words are not spoken by dog owners, but by several strangers of different ages and accents.
Whenever a new word is heard with a slightly different vowel, the dog moves its ears forward or toward the speaker – both of which are expressions of concentration. This suggests they found differences, the researchers said. But when people with different accents repeat the word, it loses interest, indicating that the dog knows to say the same word. When a person says a new word, it picks up again, but when a new voice is repeated, its attention drops again. The team recently reported in The Journal of Biology Letters that these reactions show that dogs recognize words regardless of who the speaker is and do not require any training.
Alexandra Horowitz, a canine cognition is not the novelty of looking at dogs’ reactions to non-commandor or non-requested words, and because of the nature of the test, scientists cannot prove that dogs “understand” the meaning of the word.