Do dogs talk to us?
If we can teach them tricks and they understand our words.
Can they be taught to speak human words too?
When we train dogs, we teach them how to sit, stay, speak with the intention of them understanding what this all means, rather than just 'If I do this I get a treat' scenario.
This is how some dogs are able to recognise objects by name. For example, saying the word 'walk' to your dog and they might head towards the door or going to find their lead. Or if you say 'where's teddy' and your dog immediately becomes excited and goes to find their favourite toy.
The words you use don't necessarily matter, its the reaction you give when they've completed the task that helps them to associate that they have done it correctly. If your dog has seen that you are pleased with their choice and reward them, either with food or praise, then they will link this action with a positive understanding that they have done it right. Dogs will then listen out for that pitch in your voice and link that to the object.
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Dogs are very good at linking actions to words with enough repetition. This is how dogs pick up tricks but, does that mean that training your dog to say 'I Love you' is purely a trick. Rather than saying and meaning "I love you" they are merely imitating their owner's vocal tones.
Here we have an animal compilation video from youtube of many pets saying human senttences such as 'hello' 'I love you' and such:
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To an extent, dogs can use human-like words to tell you that they love you. So although they aren't saying 'I Love You' but rather 'Ahhhy Rov ruuuu!' in an almost Scooby Doo-like fashion that rolls off into a howl, but it is close enough for most. Our dogs see our excitement at their howl of a speech and are delighted that you are happy with their latest trick - Especially if there is food to follow.
Does this mean that Dogs know the meaning of what they've been saying?
I think that may depend on the dog. In Hungary, there was a study to see if 13 dogs understood what was said to them and see which part of the brain was activated when spoken to. Click here to read the article. This research goes some way towards us humans discovering how much of our human language Dogs actually understand.
I'm sure from this compilation that for some, these dogs aren't saying 'I Love You' at all, however, for their owners, this is as close to human as it gets and they cannot believe their ears.
Sorry to burst your bubble but just because your dog can say 'I love you' Doesn't mean that they know why them saying it makes you happy. Instead here is how you can tell your dog is saying 'I Love you' in their own doggy way:
5 Ways Dogs Say I Love You that you might have Missed!
Play Time and Roughhousing
This is the perfect example of your dog saying I love you and I've missed you. This type of rough-play is your dog's most natural form of play and they are treating you as their furry equal, a member of their pack.
Here's my favourite Squeaky
It's a bit of an obvious one when your furbaby brings you their favourite toy it doesn't just mean they want to play, however. It is also their way of showing you they love you and want to make you happy because this is their favourite toy and if it makes them incredibly happy it'll certainly make you happy too.
Being Close By
Being part of your pack is such a homely fact for your dog that they want you to be close by and safe but equally show you that they are comfortable letting their guard down in your presence. You may feel your dog is a bit too attached sometimes but that is their way of telling you they want to be in your company as you are in their home.
This can be from jumping up to greet you to an energetic wagging tail, your pup is literally so excited to see you that you affect their whole self and their excitement radiates from them.
Have you ever seen your dog yawn straight after you've just yawned? That's because like humans, dogs are very empathetic creatures and if they yawn after seeing you do it, it's because they feel most connected to you.
Dogs are an extremely visual creature and learn a lot through body language and movement. A Dog Trainer will teach dogs how to do tricks through the use of body movement and words, in the hope that they dog will be able to do the trick with only a hand prompt.
How Can I say 'I love you' Back to my Dog?
Listen and React - Dogs are a very visual creature and rely on body language to communicate. If you listen to your dog and watch their movements - as they do with us - you too will become accustomed with their movements to understand what they are telling you. Such as if you stare longingly into their eyes in a 'nice' and not 'dominating' way your dog should understand that as an 'I love you Gaze'.
Talking to your Dog - Yes talking to them as normally as you would to a human has shown to calm dogs as they become accustomed to your voice at its natural pitch.
Sharing joint Moments or Experiences - this can be a loving head scratch to a walk in the park. As mentioned before dogs feel most comfortable as part of a pack and having a joint routine. It may seem like a chore for you to walk your dog in the rain after a hard day at work, but this could possibly be the highlight of your pups day because it's a full half hour with you!
Lean on me - Ever had that moment when just after a big meal or after a very satisfying walk or just whilst you're watching the tv, your dog suddenly decides to go 'floppy' and lean against you for support whether you are expecting it or not. That's your dog's way of saying I care about you and I trust you to support me as I share this affectionate moment with you. I suppose in a sense it's your dog's way of sharing a 'trust fall' with you.