Any pet owner in the world knows that they aren't just taking care of an animal, but are interacting with an intelligent being with its own thoughts and personality. Dogs have spent the most amount of time as domesticated Animals, having lived around humans for centuries now and interacted with our world in a comprehensive manner. We have always suspected that dogs understand when we speak to them, but a recent study now has the proof to back up that hypothesis.

Language and tone

A team of neuroscientists at the Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest scanned the brains of dogs in order to determine how they process language.

They placed the dogs in MRI machines and asked their trainers to speak to them during the scans. The results of the test revealed that dogs, much like humans, use the left hemisphere of their brain to process and understand words. They also use the right hemisphere to analyze the intonation of our speech patterns in order to better decipher the information.

They tested this theory by first saying meaningful words with a positive tone, and then speaking meaningless words with the same tone. They also tested the meaningful words with a neutral tone. The results showed that dogs only managed to register meaningful words with a positive tone, while almost always ignoring meaningless words and neutral tones.

It was also seen that the dogs only registered positive words from their trainers in the reward regions of their brain.

Neuroscientist Attila Andics, the person responsible for leading the team in this experiment said: "Dog brains care about both what we say and how we say it.

Praise can work as a reward only if both word meaning and intonation match.”

A history of communication

According to the researchers, the complex breakdown of tone and language in the brain of dogs suggested that these animals have managed to process what we say long before we first assumed it was possible.

The human brain is different in one major regard, in that we have the ability to also create new words while animals can only process what we say.

The team is also inclined to believe that other animals must also share this gift, but the lack of heavy interaction with other species over decades has limited this area of study.It is clear now though that your dog is listening and paying attention to everything you say, so the next time you wonder if your pet is understanding your commands, you already know that he or she does.

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