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Do You Think Your Dog Knows What You Are Saying?

If you think your four-legged friend understands what you are saying, according to a fascinating article in the latest National Geographic magazine, you could very well be right.

Source: National Geographic
By Virginia Morell
Photograph by Vincent J. Musi

A Border Collie named Rico was discovered in 2001 to have a similar language learning ability as a two-year child, with the same sense of principles that guide word learning. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology met with Rico, which led to an astonishing report. He knew the names of over 200 toys and could learn and remember new words with the ease of a toddler.

Betsy, another Border Collie, has an even more impressive vocabulary—she is better than the great apes at learning new words, knowing over 340 words including knowing at least 15 people by name. According to Juliane Kaminski of the Max Planck Institute, it seems, “dogs’ understanding of human forms of communication is something new that has evolved, something that’s developed because of their long association with humans.”

In a test, Betsy’s owner held up a picture of a toy Betsy had never seen before—a fuzzy rainbow-colored Frisbee and urged her to find it in the kitchen. Each time, Betsy ran to the kitchen and returned either with another picture of the toy, or the Frisbee itself! It appears Betsy can use a picture to identify and find an object, a pretty impressive abstract skill normally associated with human thinking.

Read the full article here