Choose your words carefully when you’re talking to your dog. A recent study tells us that both what we say and how we say it matters to dogs. Dogs’ brains process speech in a way like humans. They understand both words meanings as well as their tone. Different parts of dog’s brains respond to the meaning of a word, and to how the word is said, much as human brains do.
Hungarian scientists trained canines to climb inside of MRI machines and sit still while the researchers spoke to them. The researchers spoke to the dogs using a variety of words and intonations. In the study, they found that the dogs processed the words and tone of voice separately, in different sections of the brain. The left hemisphere of their brains lit up when they heard praise words, and this was the case no matter what tone was used. Dogs register tone in the right hemisphere which is the same place that people do it. For dogs, praise works as a reward, but it works best if both words and intonation match. Dogs can interpret what our words mean.