“Who’s a good boy?” “Do you want to walk?” “Are you hungry?” Most pet owners talk to their pets and believe their pets understand them. If they don’t understand everything, they do understand the important words like “treats”, “toys”, and “food”. There’s no doubt that dogs “get” all of our food-related cues. But what about the rest? How many words can a dog learn?

If you’ve asked yourself, “Does my dog understand me,” you’ve come to the right place

Does My Dog Understand What I Say?

Does my dog understand what I say? This is one of the most common questions asked about dogs. The answer is both yes and no. If you’ve taught your dog basic commands (and, we hope so!), then you know that “sit”, “stay”, “come”, and “drop it” are commands that are useful to us and our canines. How about complete sentences?

That’s where the tricky part comes in.

Dogs can understand words, or actually sounds, but not sentences. They won’t master the English language, in other words. When you speak to your dog in a complete sentence, he will respond to one of the sounds, like “walk”, which has been repeated to him several times. 

The sentence itself doesn’t register. To you, it may seem like your dog understands, “Fluffy, do you want to go for a walk to Serrah Park,” when they really only understand “walk”. You could have asked Fluffy to go for a walk on the moon. Fluffy zeroes in on the word “walk” because it has been repeated to him in association with something he wants.

Can I Increase My Dog’s Vocabulary?

Yes, you can! That is good news for the pet owner who is up for the challenge. According to animal behaviorist, Stanley Coren, most dogs can learn up to 165 words, while the smartest breeds (20% of canines) can learn 250.

One of the best ways to increase your dog’s vocabulary is to cover all the basic commands. This includes working words into your dog’s typical routine. If your four-legged companion likes a specific treat, like a carrot, start with this and things that appeal to your canine.

Easy repetitive words that your pet can learn include:

  • food items
  • different types of toys
  • people in the family
  • locations (like a favorite park)
  • activities you do each day (get in the car, get the leash, etc.) 

Along with repeating words, your tone of voice helps your pet learn the word. If you emphasize a word using a lilt in your tone and repeat it a few times a day, your pet will learn the word with ease.

Summing It Up

No, your dog won’t ever be a fan of Shakespeare, but they can definitely learn many words. Teaching your dog new commands can really encourage better bonding between you and offer new ways to keep your pet mentally active

What are some unusual words you have taught your dog? We’d love to know!

If you have any questions about your dog’s care or inquire about training, please contact us