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Dublin: 3 °C Tuesday 25 February, 2020

Does your dog really understand you?

New research has shown dogs are able to pick up on more than we might think.

Image: talking to dogs via shutterstock

NEW RESEARCH HAS shown that dogs understand more than we might of thought from the way that we speak to them.

While it is unclear how much they take on board in terms of processing specific meaning, the new study shows that they are able to interpret a range of information about the person speaking to them.

Previous studies has shown that dogs have hemispheric biases in their brains. This was discovered when examining how dogs reacted to other dogs barking.

This new research aimed to build on this and look at how the animals respond to human interaction.

Two hemispheres 

The new study found that dogs reacted differently depending on the different sounds that they heard. Each hemisphere was found to be better at interpreting certain elements in sound being emitted.

If either the right or left hemisphere of the brain was better at interpreting a certain sound, than it would be heard through the opposite ear.

In the experiment, conditions were controlled by the sound being played on either side of the dog at the same volume.

When a dog heard a command they were familiar with, they turned to their right, showing that the sound was best interpreted in the left-hand side of the brain.

If a speakers intonation was particularly exaggerated it was found that the dog was more inclined to turn to turn to its right.

The research, which was conducted by scientists at the University of Sussex, shows that the time you spend talking to your canines isn’t in vain. Speaking about the findings, author of the study Professor Victoria Radcliffe, said:

Although we cannot say how much or in what way dogs understand information in speech from our study, we can say that dogs react to both verbal and speaker-related information and that these components appear to be processed in different areas of the dog’s brain.

Read: This video on Irish stereotypes is oddly charming and pretty dead-on

Also: Science Week: The answers so you can enjoy your Friday night

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