The relationship we have with our pets is incredible. We love them, take care of them and talk to them. But do you ever wonder if they can really understand what we’re saying? Is communicating with pets possible?
In the past, experts believed that it’s merely a learned or adapted behaviour when animals appear to understand humans; because it’s not an ability they’re born with (or so they thought). However, recent studies show that pet cognition (that is, their mental ability to gain knowledge and understanding it through thought, experience and their senses) is more advanced than what some scientists previously claimed.
Studies About Communicating With Pets With Human’s Verbal Queues
- Science Magazine in 2004, published a study about a Border Collie, named Rico. He learned 200 names of different items and was able to identify and retrieve them four weeks after learning them.
- In 2019 the University of Sussex conducted research and found that dogs distinguish meaningful words. They could differentiate words when they have a slightly different vowel sound. Dr Holly Root-Gutteridge, the leader of the study, said that despite the previous assumption, this ability is not unique to humans and that dogs also have this linguistic ability.
- According to psychologist and leading canine researcher Stanley Coren, PhD, of the University of British Columbia, the average dog can learn 165 words.
- A study from Sophia University in Tokyo, authored by Dr Atsuko Saito shows that cats can distinguish their names from a list of other terms. Using the same intonation, four words we uttered, followed by the cat’s name. The results show nine of the 16 participating cats had an uptick in their movement when they heard their name.
- Cats reportedly can understand 25-30 words.
Studies About Communicating With Pets With Non-Verbal Queues
Studies show that dogs understand human gestures and cues better than most animals. They are great at reading our body language.
- Frontiers in Psychology published research that suggests that untrained stray dogs can understand human pointing gestures. They tested 160 adult dogs and found that they are capable of following distal pointing cues from humans to locate hidden food rewards.
- As for human emotions, dogs indeed are a man’s best friend. They can read and respond to what’s written all over our faces. Researchers at the University of Bari Aldo Moro in Italy conducted a study where 26 dogs during feeding, were presented with photographs that showed one of the six basic emotions. The dogs revealed higher cardiac activity when they saw high emotional states such as anger, fear and happiness.
Although cats may seem less concerned about how humans feel, your furry feline friend may be paying more attention than you think. Their quiet, mysterious demeanour may mean they are closely paying attention.
- Findings published in the journal, Animal Cognition showed that cats behaved differently based on their owner’s facial expression. They are more likely to manifest positive and clingy behaviour such as rubbing, sitting on their owner’s lap and purring when their owner is smiling.
There’s still so much to discover about communicating with pets. For now, as pet parents, we believe that speaking with our adorable furry friends using our words, gestures or emotions is simply a normal part of having a deep connection and healthy relationship with them.
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