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Do Dogs Understand English?

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by

Robyn Berardi

on 30 September 2014

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Transcript of Do Dogs Understand English?

Do Dogs Understand English?
Hypothesis
We think that the dogs in the experiment will
not
understand English, but just the tone of voice.
Problem
Can dogs actually understand English words, or do they just respond to the tone of voice being used?
Original Command: Sit
Similar Words Used:
Fit, Hit, Bit, Quit, Mit,
Non-similar word:
Right

Observations: The subject obeyed similar words, and sat for all of them, except the last one, right. The command had to be said a few times, but eventually the subject obeyed.

Results: Subject does not understand the word being used, but just the tone.
Dog #1
Original Command: Stay
Similar Words Used:
May,Bay,Cray,Ay, Kay
Non-Similar Word:
Tree

Observations:
The subject did not obey most of the similar commands, but he did stay for kay and tree.

Results: The subject does understand most English.
Dog #2
Materials
-Notepad
-Pen/Pencil
-Dog trained to understand at least three commands
Procedure
1. First, make sure that the dog you are working with in this experiment can respond to at least three commands. The dog should be very familiar with these commands.

2. Create a hypothesis: If you ask your dog to do something in a voice that's similar to the voice you use when you say "sit" or "stay" will the dog still obey?

3. Now think of the words your dog is trained to know. If your dog can stay, you might say "pay" or "may" instead of "stay". These words sound alike.

4. Call the dog over. and tell it to sit, using the word you've chosen as an alterinative. Use the same tone of voice that you would if you were telling the dog to sit. Don't use any hand commands.

5. Try each word five times, moving through them in a different order each time.

6. Try a word that sounds completely different from "sit" or "stay", but say it in the same tone of voice.
Conclusion
Originally, our problem was to find out if dogs actually understand the command being said, or do they just understand the tone of voice being used. In conclusion, we discovered that it depends on the dog you are testing, as Dog #1 did
not
understand English, while dog #2 did.
Application
This is useful for real life application because if a dog trainer needed to teach a dog commands, they would know whether they need to teach the dog the word or just the tone of voice that the command is associated with.
Full transcript