Conversation With Your Dog Improves Its Attention Span
We all talk to our dogs, right? We tell them how much we love them, how good they are, what we want them to do, and where they should go. Yes, we have talked about this before, but new research has been released within the past couple of days I want to talk to you about.
Those who don’t have dogs look at those who do and ask, “why are you talking to her like that?” As pup parents, we tend to talk to our dogs just like we would anyone else. And, we swear they understand what we’re talking about (although we aren’t sure exactly how much they understand).
A study published in the Frontiers in Neuroscience asked 12 dogs and their owners to spend time practicing associating two toys with the toys names. The pet parents called the toys exactly what they were. For example, if one of the toys was a stuffed duck, they would call the toy ‘duck.’ Then, after the pet parent said the name of the toy, the dog would receive praise or a treat of some sort when that toy was retrieved.
After several months of this training, the dogs knew which toys had which names and were able to differentiate between the two.
The researchers had the dogs hop into a brain scanning machine while their pet parent was standing in front of them. The owners held up a toy and said the name of the toy out loud to see how their dog reacted. They would then hold up an object unknown to the dog and speak ‘gibberish’ to see how their dog reacted.
The dogs’ brains showed more activity in response to the unfamiliar word than the familiar word. Researchers speculate this is due to the dogs wanting to continue to please their loving pet parent.
As scientists, we had thought the way pet parents say a command (their tone of voice) heavily influenced the way a dog reacts to a command or statement rather than the words we actually say. Although our tone of voice does influence what our dog thinks, there is now reason to believe they truly understand many of the words coming out of our mouths.
What’re more, in another study published in Animal Cognition, researchers found that having conversations with your dog not only improves its attention span but also strengthens the bond you share.
Next time you find yourself talking to your pup, don’t feel silly. Science is showing dogs understand more than we (as humans) thought they could. The language barrier between us may not be as large as we once thought.
That’s all for today. Have a great weekend, everyone.
Until next time.