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Old 06-10-2004, 12:41 PM   #1
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Default I KNEW they could understand us!!!

I knew it, I knew it, I knew it .... they DO understand us!!!

Research Finds Dogs Understand Language
By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP

WASHINGTON (June 10) - As many a dog owner will attest, our furry friends are listening. Now, for the doubters, there is scientific proof they understand much of what they hear.

German researchers have found a border collie named Rico who understands more than 200 words and can learn new ones as quickly as many children.
Patti Strand, an American Kennel Club board member, called the report "good news for those of us who talk to our dogs."

"Like parents of toddlers, we learned long ago the importance of spelling key words like bath, pill or vet when speaking in front of our dogs," Strand said. "Thanks to the researchers who've proven that people who talk to their dogs are cutting-edge communicators, not just a bunch of eccentrics."

The researchers found that Rico knows the names of dozens of play toys and can find the one called for by his owner. That is a vocabulary size about the same as apes, dolphins and parrots trained to understand words, the researchers say.

Rico can even take the next step, figuring out what a new word means.

The researchers put several known toys in a room along with one that Rico had not seen before. From a different room, Rico's owner asked him to fetch a toy, using a name for the toy the dog had never heard.

The border collie, a breed known primarily for its herding ability, was able to go to the room with the toys and, seven times out of 10, bring back the one he had not seen before. The dog seemingly understood that because he knew the names of all the other toys, the new one must be the one with the unfamiliar name.

"Apparently he was able to link the novel word to the novel item based on exclusion learning, either because he knew that the familiar items already had names or because they were not novel," said the researchers, led by Julia Fischer of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig.

A month later, he still remembered the name of that new toy three out of six times, even without having seen it since that first test. That is a rate the scientists said was equivalent to that of a 3-year-old.

Rico's learning ability may indicate that some parts of speech comprehension developed separately from human speech, the scientists said.

"You don't have to be able to talk to understand a lot," Fischer said. The team noted that dogs have evolved with humans and have been selected for their ability to respond to the communications of people.

Katrina Kelner, Science's deputy editor for life sciences, said "such fast, one-trial learning in dogs is remarkable. This ability suggests that the brain structures that support this kind of learning are not unique to humans and may have formed the evolutionary basis of some of the advanced language abilities of humans."

Perhaps, although Paul Bloom of Yale University urges caution.

"Children can understand words used in a range of contexts. Rico's understanding is manifested in his fetching behavior," Bloom writes in a commentary, also in Science.

Bloom calls for further experiments to answer several questions: Can Rico learn a word for something other than a small object to be fetched? Can he display knowledge of a word in some way other than fetching? Can he follow an instruction not to fetch something?

Fischer and her colleagues are still working with Rico to see if he can understand requests to put toys in boxes or to bring them to certain people. Rico was born in December 1994 and lives with his owners. He was tested at home.

Funding for this research was provided in part by the German Research Foundation.


06/10/04 09:40 EDT
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Old 06-10-2004, 03:06 PM   #2
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That is a rate the scientists said was equivalent to that of a 3-year-old.
Mike always says I'm stuck with a two-year-old who will never grow up! (And he means Otis!).....although I prefer Otis to a human two-year-old. No offense to those who have kids!

Great article, Bettyeanne!
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Old 06-10-2004, 03:33 PM   #3
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Yup, if the know 'come here' or any sets of commands, they definitely do have a brain. I know they are smarter than they let on, just sometimes WE'RE the stupid ones that don't understand them. I feel so dumb sometimes if Yoda motions or growls at something and it turns out he just wants a toy or something on the counter. He's like, "You stupid human, can't you understand a simple command?!"

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Old 06-10-2004, 04:55 PM   #4
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And some dogs know what you are THINKING! I had a Sheltie that absolutely hated baths at home or at the groomer's. And even though we never said one word (knowing that she knew the words "bath" and "groomer"), she would disappear completely and hide out about a half hour before we ever got out her leash or took out a towel......She KNEW! She was a MIND READER, that one! It got to be a real challenge!
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Old 06-10-2004, 05:41 PM   #5
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And some dogs know what you are THINKING! She was a MIND READER, that one! It got to be a real challenge!
I HOPE "The Toto" knows what I'm thinking!! She spent 1-2 hrs. in her pen this morning!! She is so like a human ... in the morning she is a "creature of habit" just like a human! Gets up when the "resident insomniac" [me] gets up ... goes teetee .... naps [bundled in "yellow blankie"] on my lap until she hears "Alpha Male" get up. Goes to kitchen with me while I make coffee and does her morning poop and another teetee. This morning everything was the same except second teetee! She did her poop and then walked past me and over to the living room. About the time I thought "that's odd" and looked around the bar she teeteed right on the carpet in the living room!! I was furious!! I picked her up and deposited her in her pen and locked the gate [she just walked over and curled up in her bed ... no protest ... no odd look ... nothing!!!] ... then I did the vinegar cleanup thing which I had just seen Helouise describe on Animal Planet. So ... whadaya think would cause Miss Prissy Paws to do this?? She always uses her weewee pad!! Any ideas??
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Old 06-10-2004, 05:50 PM   #6
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Higgins ALWAYS used his pads! That is, until about a month ago and then he decided he could pee anywhere. Then last week, he peed regular as rain right in the middle of his pads again....for a week.....then he peed on the carpet last night and still poops everywhere inside in the morning, even though we take him out a million times. HOWEVER, he is peeing and pooping more and more outside now. Pees outside about 95% of the time. And poops about 50% of the time......I think he's getting it. We aren't doing any particular training. We just take him out. And we leave about three pee pads down around the house in his favorite spots. Again, I think dear old Pogo has been the good influence here. And I also think that the peeing inside is less now that he is lifting the old leg instead of squatting. And you should see how HIGH he lifts that leg! Points right to the sky! So funny. I think they just got through rebellious stages. Or perhaps it was payback.....is she jealous of you and Pat cuddling? Higgins gets right in between Don and me! The only one who should get any cuddling is HIGGINS!
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Old 06-10-2004, 07:04 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Higgin's Mom
And some dogs know what you are THINKING! I had a Sheltie that absolutely hated baths at home or at the groomer's. And even though we never said one word (knowing that she knew the words "bath" and "groomer"), she would disappear completely and hide out about a half hour before we ever got out her leash or took out a towel......She KNEW! She was a MIND READER, that one! It got to be a real challenge!
Otis does the same thing! I have no idea how he knows he's getting a bath because I don't say a word, but every time it's bathtime, he's hiding!
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Old 06-10-2004, 07:24 PM   #8
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Maybe Otis and Higgins talks to human psychics, that tell them how to figure out what WE are thinking...
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Old 06-11-2004, 03:50 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Higgin's Mom
Higgins ALWAYS used his pads! That is, until about a month ago and then he decided he could pee anywhere. And we leave about three pee pads down around the house in his favorite spots. Again, I think dear old Pogo has been the good influence here. And I also think that the peeing inside is less now that he is lifting the old leg instead of squatting. And you should see how HIGH he lifts that leg! Points right to the sky! So funny. I think they just got through rebellious stages. Or perhaps it was payback.....is she jealous of you and Pat cuddling? Higgins gets right in between Don and me! The only one who should get any cuddling is HIGGINS!
Toto always used her pads too ... now she practically steps OVER the pad to pee on the floor!! We have placed one where she has begun to pee on the floor in her pen and she is using it! Duhhhh!! I can't figure out what's gotten into her! I would love to see Higgins do his little "point"! That has to be cute! I don't know if Toto is paying us back for something or not but she certainly makes me want to "fire her little hairy butt up" sometimes!! Is she ever jealous of Pat & me!! She HAS to be in the middle of everything .... including us!!
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Old 06-11-2004, 05:51 PM   #10
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Don't underestimate the power of praise! Praise like a madwoman after she goes pee pee in the right place! Or add a little treat of some kind. If you can get her to associate pee peeing in the right place with praise and treats, she'll get used to it and do it every time!
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Old 06-11-2004, 09:00 PM   #11
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Default no advice here!!!!!

Obviously what I am doing isn't working either.....I keep Max on a routine...but when I am out of the house...he marks the corners of furniture....actually anything vertical is a temptation.......but he also goes every time he is outside.....he is coming better I am heaping the praise on him.....however it is neutralized by the peepee....so it is a roller coaster

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Old 06-12-2004, 03:18 AM   #12
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Quote:
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Don't underestimate the power of praise! Praise like a madwoman after she goes pee pee in the right place! Or add a little treat of some kind. If you can get her to associate pee peeing in the right place with praise and treats, she'll get used to it and do it every time!
YEP!! Have done that since the day we brought her home! We actually go waaay overboard with it .... make it a point for her to know without a shadow of a doubt that the treat and all the praise is for her "Good teetee" ... the only thing we don't do is back flips and that's because we are too old!!! It's almost as if she goes through "phases" where she deliberately does it! We give her credit even if she "misses" the pad a little!! Guess we will just have to continue being persistent!!
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Old 06-12-2004, 03:41 AM   #13
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Going on 13, Pogo was housetrained early and surely. Then several years ago he decided that it was perfectly okay to lift his leg and poop in the house if he felt like it! After all, WE relieve ourselves in the house, right? I have not a clue as to WHY! One thing for sure....now that he is in his dotage, he does NOT like bad weather, particularly rain and snow. Pogo is the absolute SMARTEST dog I have ever known and I KNOW that he knows what he is doing. But he ain't talkin'.

We have a dog door at home, and for the most part, Pogp is glad to be home now so he can let himself in and out. Higgins ALMOST has that door figured out, so we don't know what we are going to do when he DOES figure it out.
Funny thing, Higgins will push the big old back screen door open and go right out, but won't push the little dog door open. Go figure. Fortunately we can hear both doors well! But we just can't let Higgins have THAT much freedom.
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