See Spot comprehend


I use to have a border collie so I found this very interesting. Researchers have discovered that border collies comprehend the names of over 1,000 objects and can differentiate between a noun and a verb. The research out of Wofford College confirms and expands previous studies which found a dob that knew several hundred words. That study didn’t test the command aspect and didn’t really explore the range of the dog’s comprehension.

For this latest study, John Tilley and Alliston Reid answered two questions: how large could the vocabulary be? And what do dogs actually understand in human language? Results are published in Behavioural Processes.

They trained their dog Chaser to recognize over a thousand words in three years and decided that there was no limit to the number of words that could be added. They named her toys and she was required to select them on command. They showed that the dog had substantial ability to discern auditory commands and coordinate them with visual cues.

They then combined different commands with the different toy names to see if Chaser to understand the difference and maintain recognition of the object when paired with different commands. Chaser did.

“This research is important because it demonstrates that dogs, like children, can develop extensive vocabularies and understand that certain words represent individual objects and other words represent categories of objects, independent in meaning of what one is asked to do with those objects,” said Reid.

Source: Behavioural Processes, ScienceDaily


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