Having two very smart dogs and two equally clever cats, I am well aware that our animals understand us. But what do dogs understand?
When I think of dogs who are still waiting for their forever home and the fact that they are well aware of what’s happening around them, it makes me so thankful that we’re a family who can afford to rescue not one, but 7 animals! Morgan moved on to his forever home and Riley is in heaven watching over us. Our next dog is waiting for us.
Dog’s Vocabulary | How Many Words do Dogs Understand?
Dogs, regardless of their breed, are very smart when it comes to the vocabulary we use with them. If you tend to just use short, one-word commands, you won’t be giving your dog the opportunity to develop their understanding of your words. Pairing an object with a word, as you would do with a toddler, and reinforcing the recognition of the word, will help to train your dog to understand what you say. Some dogs will even identify a word such as t-o-y when you spell it out for them.
Besides knowing an average of 250 words, a dog reads your body language and facial expressions. For example, although my dog is deaf, she can still read my face and mouth formation when asked, “do you want a treeeat?” or “Wanna go ouuut?” said in an exaggerated manner. Another dog I had knew when she was going to be fed when I said her favorite food word, with exaggerated tongue protrusion, “llllaaaamb”. (Speech pathologists tend to talk this way most of the time!) She would dance around and run to her supper bowl.
There was a story a while back about a dog named “Chaser”. She was a border collie who could identify and select from a vast field, more than 1,000 objects spoken by her owner. The objects were mainly toys such as distinct balls or stuffed animals. It took Chaser’s owner as much as 4-5 hours a day in training, starting when she was a puppy. The owner would show Chaser an item, repeat its name many times, hide it and ask her to get it as he repeated the name. He taught her one or two items a day. They would review previous lessons on a monthly basis. Chaser loved the attention and begged for more lessons.
Now, I don’t think most of us could devote that much time to a puppy, but isn’t it nice to know that our tail wagging friends are so intelligent? It’s nice to be understood!