Can dogs talk?

April 13, 2012

Dogs talk? Yes, dogs talk. A lot of dogs are talking in the movie “All Dogs Go to Heaven”. Dogs talk in other animated movies as well. But in real life?…No! Dogs do not talk, at least not in the way we humans do.

Dogs make wonderful companions. They were branded as man’s best friends after all. Dogs have been the loyal and affectionate companions of man for thousands of years. As such, pet owners tend to give the pet human-like characteristics. Owners would brag how they were able to teach the dog to speak. Proud owners have even uploaded videos of their talking dogs for every internet surfer to see. Actually, it really would be super if the dog can talk. Gone would be the helplessness a pet parent would feel if the dog is off color as the dog can tell dad what is wrong. Gone would be the one-sided conversations with the pet. Rover can now air his opinions.

Humans talk to each other to for a lot of reasons but basically, talking is done to convey a message. Dogs are incapable of human speech but they talk in their own way to put across a message as well. Dogs talk with other dogs and with other animals. Notice how the barking of one dog would set off the barking of other dogs. The first barker may be alerting the others to the presence of intruders. The menacing growl of a dog warns the cat to back off while a happy bark may be asking the cat to play. Dogs may not be able to talk the way humans do but they have other abilities that will make humans understand the message they are trying to impart. Dogs heavily rely on their body language. The pet may not be able to say “Dad, I want to go out” but the whining and the scratching on the door will make a perceptive pet parent understand that the dog wants to do its business outside. A pet parent would surely understand that the dog wants to walk if it approaches with a leash on its mouth.

Dogs can’t talk the way humans do primarily because their physical structure makes it impossible for dogs to do so. Humans and dogs have many genetic similarities. Dogs also have the mouth, tongue, lips and vocal chords that humans use to talk. Dogs though do not have a well developed speech center. Studies conducted on canine vocalization showed that the thicker vocal chords of dogs are configured to make sounds but not to talk. A human’s vocal chords are made up of thin strips of flesh that can be stretch easily to produce a wide range of sound. The thick vocal cords of dogs are less sensitive to stretching. Dogs produce sound when the mouth is opened but as they are incapable of using the lips and the tongue to form words what will come out would be barking, whining and growling sounds.

Studies on canine vocalization have proven that these animals are capable of selective tonal imitation. When a dog makes a sound that resembles a phrase, the owner would grab at the chance to train the dog to talk. The owner turned voice trainer will make the dog repeat the phrase again and again. Dogs, being intelligent creatures would respond well especially if the training is reinforced with treats. The dog will eventually be able to talk by producing the canine version of an original human sound. So when your friend’s pooch let out a resounding aaa rooh woooh, the dog definitely likes you as the sound means I love you!

Dogs are intelligent creatures but their IQ is not at par with humans. Dogs may not be able to talk but humans would understand what the dogs want to say.

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