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How Well Dogs Understand Humans

If you’ve had even a little experience communicating with a dog, you have likely noticed that these animals are almost like people — it feels as if they understand us well but can’t say it. But, of course, things are not completely like this, as dogs have certain skills and abilities that many people tend to overestimate.

5-Minute Crafts found out how well dogs really understand people.


Indeed, a dog understands what you intend to do at any given moment. Here is the simplest example: you grab a coat and a bag, which means you are going to leave. The dog understands the connection between these events well and, therefore, can assume what is about to happen. But even if you don’t grab a coat, the dog can usually understand that you are about to call them over for a walk by your body language, small movements, and expressions that you even don’t even think about.


Dogs actually have the cognitive ability to recognize and understand some of the emotions of humans. Therefore, if it seems to you that the dog knows when to support you after a difficult day and when to rejoice at your success, it is really so. That is because it notices how the tone of your voice changes, how your body looks, and your posture. The dog feels even the slightest changes in your smell that happen because your body releases hormones that regulate certain emotions.

But the most important tool for distinguishing emotions is your facial expression — dogs can read it even from a photo. This is believed to be the first piece of evidence that an animal is able to discriminate between the emotions of a member of another species.

Your attitude toward other people

If you meet a person you don’t really like while walking with your dog, it is likely that your pet will understand it. It can read your body language, your tension, and your antipathy. Even if you say, “I am happy to meet you,” your general energy will be obvious to the pet. And on the other hand, if you are happy to meet an old friend, the dog will understand it just as well.


Frankly speaking, dogs understand better how we pronounce words rather than what we say. For example, you can call the dog for a walk with a joyful expression and a voice full of enthusiasm, and most likely, the pet will already be impatiently waiting for you at the door in a moment. However, the same words spoken in an aggressive or angry tone will make the animal wary.

But we can’t say that dogs don’t understand our speech at all — it’s not totally accurate. When processing sounds, dogs use 2 parts of their brain. One part is responsible for processing the meaning of the word, and the second one is for intonation and visual cues. When a dog hears a word, its brain first processes the intonation with which it was said (this is done by the more “ancient” part of the brain), and only then can they understand what exactly was said. This is processed by the more evolutionarily young part of the brain (like in humans).

Preview photo credit Depositphotos.com
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