Dogs Can Understand What You're Saying And Know If You're Being Sincere Or Not

We all have that voice we use with our dogs.

You know the one. It's overly pleasant, thickly coated in feigned positivity, and it's meant to lull our pups into a false sense of security when really, they're about to be forced to do something they really don't want to do:

"We're going to take a bath! Yes we are! We're going to get nice and soapy because we thought it would be a good idea to roll around in other dogs' poop today! But we're not going to jump out of the tub and get mommy's shirt all wet because that would really bum her out!"

As convincing as you think your "everything-is-fine" voice is, it turns out your dogs can see right through it.

According to People, a new study out of Hungary suggests that our dogs are not only able to understand what we say, but also how we say it. Which is good because that means our random chats with our pups aren't entirely pointless.

But it's also bad because it means your dog knows when you're trying to trick them, and they probably don't appreciate that at all.

In fact, it turns out dogs process speech the same way us humans do by using the same parts of their brain.

Unsplash | Mitchell Orr

As part of the study, researchers from Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest trained 13 dogs, who were largely either golden retrievers or border collies, to sit perfectly still for seven minutes. Then, the dogs were given an MRI scan to measure their brain activity.

It's important to note that these pups weren't restrained during the study. They were allowed to get up and leave the MRI machine if they felt the need to. No animal cruelty here.

During their MRI's, the dogs listened to a trainer read off some key words and phrases to them.

They ranged from the positive ("clever", "well done", "that's it") to the meaningless ("yet", "if") and were read in both happy and neutral tones.

What they found was that when the dogs heard meaningful words, their brains' left hemispheres lit up with activity to help them process the words. When they heard the meaningless words, their right hemispheres flickered with activity to try and understand the tone.

In cases when words and tone matched, both hemispheres activated and worked together to interpret the meaning.

Unsplash | Jamie Street

So what does this tell us? Well, one of the biggest takeaways is that dogs process information similar to the way that humans do.

"We see now that speech processing mechanisms in dogs and humans are more similar than we thought," Attila Andics, one of the study researchers, told Today.

But it also means that your dog is much wiser than you give them credit for.

“It shows that for dogs, a nice praise can very well work as a reward, but it works best if both words and intonation match,” Andics said. “So dogs not only tell apart what we say and how we say it, but they can also combine the two, for a correct interpretation of what those words really meant.”

Although your dog can't decode everything you say to them, they do pick up on words they know and that you use often, and they can also smell B.S.

In simple terms, just be up front with your dog. No one likes a liar.

h/t: People, Today

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