December 11, 2009, Newsletter Issue #317: Expectations: Dog's understanding of us

Tip of the Week

Researchers feel that the average dog has a human language range of 100 words or less.  Words used repeatedly for commands are those learned the fastest - such as no, sit, etc.  It is believed that the dogs alert on the very first sounds of each human word they know, and pay more attention thereafter to the inflection and/or tone used.
To a dog that has about the average knowledge of the human language, a general (English) conversation overheard by them of someone on the phone would sound like (capitalized words are the recognized words):  "hi hon... yes, please STOP at the store on the way home for me and get bread... NO, your mother did not call today... never mind, just COME on home and i'll get bread later..."   Your dog heard STOP --- NO --- COME.
Is there any reason your dog should NOT be confused as they listen to us?
As puppies grow into dogs, they learn to tune out some of the words they understand and/or hear,  but start reading our body language.  In canine language, the more white that are shown in your eyes or with your teeth indicates aggression for 'dog speak.'   
Dogs dislike sunglasses on humans because they cannot read your body language and eyes - especially your eyes because that is how they read us.  In fact, there was one study done that demonstrated if a dog saw their owner's eyes closed, they were tempted to snitch a treat whereas when the owner's eyes were simply opened, they did not attempt to do this!
The more we understand dogs, and understand what they understand about US, the better the relationship will be between all parties!

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