“No!” “Treat!” “Squirrel!”
Your dog totally understands some words. You know that. Scientists know that. But now we know they also understand not just words, but the emotion behind them.
Researchers at the University of Sussex recently posted a study in the journal Current Biology found that when dogs hear words by a) a human they know and b) with emotional content, they tilt their heads to the left, indicating right hemisphere brain activity.
When they hear words with no tone intonation and with no familiar speaker, they turned their heads right, indicating left hemisphere brain activity.
Dogs, like humans, process language in their left hemispheres and emotions in the right. So, when a dog tilts its head right or left, they are deciphering both WHAT you are saying, and HOW and WHY you are saying it.
So when you scold your pup on chewing on the ends of the rug, you can rest assured even if they don’t get all the words in your sentences, they know you’re mad. Whether they care? Well, that’s another story.