A Dog Can Hear You, But Does It Mean He’s Paying Attention?

There is no greater affection than that which we have for our dogs. In 2013, Americans spent $55.7 billion on their furry family members. This sum included expenses such as grooming, toys, veterinary care, and food. In the United States, the annual cost for a single-pet home is close to $ 500. Those with many pets at home spend much more. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average American family spends $5,012 on their pet each year, which is more than they spend on groceries ($4,404), entertainment ($456), or clothes ($404).

The majority of dog owners provide a loving home for their pets. We take our dogs everywhere, shower them with affection, and treat them to presents and outings. Most dog owners would agree that their canine companion is a better listener than some of the people in their own households.

The ability to hear would be a dog’s superpower if it existed

Have you ever wondered how much your dog really understands if you are a dog owner who likes conversing with your dog? Dogs, as we are all well aware, possess superior hearing than humans. Dogs have an auditory range that is about twice as wide as that of humans. Their hearing range is four times greater than that of human ears; our canines can pick up noises that are 20 feet distant from them from a distance of 80 feet.

Do our dogs comprehend what they are hearing, even if they have superior hearing than we do?

The answer is “yes,” according to two separate studies published in Science and Current Biology, respectively. Though he may not get the full meaning of every word you say, your dog listens and pays attention in much the same way that we do. As the study’s authors found, canines, like humans, react to the tone of our voices as much as they do to our actual words.

We have a lot of similarities with dogs in terms of how we process speech

Research indicates that both people and dogs react to vocalizations (what is being said) and emotional tones (how something is spoken) while listening to speech.

This is fascinating because, as one of the study’s supervisors, David Reby, put it, “our findings show that the processing of speech components in the dog’s brain is split between the two hemispheres in a manner that is really quite similar to the way it is separated in the human brain.”

When it comes to language, we are all “lefties.”

What we say is mostly processed by the left hemisphere of the human brain. How we say things are something that is processed in the right hemisphere, and this includes the use of exaggerated, positive vocal inflection.

Dogs in the research proved they can listen in the same manner that people do, disproving the long-held notion that this capacity is exclusive to humans. When faced with a foreign language, they stopped paying attention to linguistics and started paying attention to the feelings behind the words.

Anyone who has ever visited a foreign nation where they did not speak the language would understand this. When listening to a language you don’t know, your attention naturally shifts to non-verbal indicators like tone and inflection in an effort to piece together meaning. It seems that when our dogs hear the strange language, they react in the same way.

A dog is not easily duped

In the second trial, researchers attempted to deceive dogs by using positive, praising intonations to speak out-of-context phrases (for example, they changed a laudatory “Excellent boy!” to the word “but”). During the experiment, brain scans revealed the dogs were not duped. This was evident to the researchers since the left hemisphere of the brain was inactive. The results challenge the widely held belief that canines are only able to grasp the tenor of human voices and not the meaning of individual words.

True friends are good listeners

Researchers’ findings will please those who take pleasure in chatting with their pets. Even if your dog doesn’t fully comprehend what you’re saying, he nevertheless pays close attention to the words you use and the feelings they convey.

So, continue your conversations with dogs. Be careful to use a pleasant tone of voice and only mention positive things. One of the many reasons why dogs are our greatest companions is because they have excellent hearing and can understand what we’re saying.