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Old 05-01-2013, 11:22 AM
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Laurelin Laurelin is offline
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Default An uncanny ability

This is mostly me just pondering out loud. Just a warning.

I always wonder how much do dogs understand. Mia has this uncanny ability to seem to pick out words, names, and language. I mean... All dogs do. Beau is the king of knowing 101 ways people are saying they're going to let the dogs out. Mia is a step further and it makes me question just HOW MUCH can they understand.

In one instance Mia learned the word mouse means small furry thing. Squirrel was a similar thing for her. You can hide her toys and tell her to go find the ball or the 'bunny' (tug) and she will search for it and bring it back. She will look a long time. She knows Summer's name and if I ask her to find Summer she will. Summer has shown no indication that she knows 'Mia' means Mia.

I've done some naming sessions where I teach her a few objects. Something like pen, book, toy. Short session and she will go to each by name. I haven't tried more than a few at a time.

Other instances... She's escaped the tub before and run into the living room and I tell her 'go get back in the tub' and she does. Or last night I told her to get on the couch and she did. I am sure a lot is just informal training. Things I taught her that I didn't intentionally mean to. Of course even summer does that but not to the same variety of things Mia does.

Anyways just been thinking and wondering about dogs and language in particular. It seems incredible how much of it they can seem to understand. I just wonder how much they really do understand. Mia seems to have generalized 'where is' to mean she needs to look for something. She seems to know 'get on x' or 'go over there'. I think the most intriguing is that she seems to know 'Summer' means that other dog that lives here.

I'm probably thinking too much lol.
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Last edited by Laurelin; 05-01-2013 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 05-01-2013, 11:31 AM
Michiyo-Fir Michiyo-Fir is offline
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I always wonder too.

For example, there are 2 flights of stairs in my house. Nia knows go upstairs or go downstairs. So if we're at the top I can tell her to go downstairs twice and she'll end up at the very bottom. Whereas if we're in the middle, I can tell her to go upstairs or downstairs and she knows which one it is. I have no clue how she picked that up...

She also knows a lot of dogs that are very close to her by name and my name and my mom's name so you can ask her to go find whoever and she will.

Even things like if she has leftover food you can tell her to go finish her food and she goes...

It amazes me a lot how much they understand us!
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Old 05-01-2013, 11:48 AM
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I've said it before, Mia sounds very, very, very much like Milo in so many aspects, particularly intelligence.

It amazes me daily how many words and phrases he knows. Sometimes I wonder if it's more of body language and figuring out human habits than actual words, but I'm not sure. I didn't specifically teach him lots of words and phrases, and some - "walk" "outside" "leash" "food" "cookie" - etc. Are words plenty of dogs figure out.

Milo knows the names of most of the rooms/areas of the house. "Basement", "upstairs", "the bedroom", "inside" (meaning out of the front area and into the back family room), etc. He knows the names of all our family members, Benji, and the cats. Some dogs respond when you put your shoes on...Milo knows if you say "Let me get my shoes on" before I go to do it.

He'll back up if you ask him to, or move over if you ask him to...I never taught him those things, and he seemed to know them immediately upon coming home. I think it's just that he's really in-tune to body language, like if I tell him "scoot over", it's before I'm about to sit down, so he figures he might as well get out of my way? I don't know. He'll do it even if I'm not about to sit. Or "stay"...I guess maybe I tried to teach him a solid "stay" command, but now I can say any phrase along the lines of "stay here", "sit with me", "don't move", "stay on the couch", etc. and he will. I'm assuming it's just by tone/body language, etc.

When I let him outside, if I want him to come right back inside, I say "go potty then come back" and he does, every time (barring some kind of SERIOUS temptation out there). If I don't say that, or even if I just say "go potty", he'll go outside and stay there and play until I want him back inside.

He's also really, really focused on people and what they say. He's looking at my face 99% of the time I'm talking to him, usually cocking his head, obviously trying to understand. He's very focused on me and very (unhealthily) attached to me. I think that has a lot to do with it.

The other dogs I have lived with certainly haven't been that capable of understanding human language (or body language) without explicit teaching, and it's hard to tell if the other dogs I've worked with might be that way with their owners.
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Old 05-01-2013, 12:32 PM
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Bernard is really cute running up and down the stairs at my sister's place.

I do wonder how much is that Mia is a pretty hyper aware kind of dog- in good ways and bad ways. She is definitely much more attuned to me than Summer or any other dog I've had to the point our trainers have mentioned it that she reads me a lot better. I think it's a mutual thing though. I think I also read her a lot better too.

It's interesting and makes me think. Almost every day there is something I say that Mia reacts to in jut the right way that makes me wonder how much she does pick up and understand. I think so many people underestimate canine intelligence.
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Old 05-01-2013, 12:34 PM
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I just want to renew my first dibs on Mia if you ever get tired of her
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Old 05-01-2013, 12:50 PM
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I chatter to my dogs a lot. And I do think that they pick up certain phrases just due to context and repetition. All of my present and past dogs have had phrases they clearly responded to appropriately despite never having specifically been taught those phrases as commands or cues.

ETA: Some dogs more than others, I do think different individuals pick stuff up more easily. My old Roxy was the best at it. Pip and Squash are better than Maisy is.
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Old 05-01-2013, 01:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shai View Post
I just want to renew my first dibs on Mia if you ever get tired of her
See? I told that other forum that Mia would be rehomable even if she's a brat.

I do think all dogs pick up on things for sure. Even my terribly non observant Summer does but to a lesser extent than Mia does. Maybe it's because I talk so much to my dogs. I blabber a lot.

I just think its all kind of amazing. I had someone once say dogs didn't understand names. But really what is there to understand about names other than this sound refers to this thing/person. I just think people underestimate them.
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Old 05-01-2013, 01:26 PM
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I find it absolutely amazing that Crossbone is learning phrases, words and the things we do rapidly. Seems like he's been here & known us his whole life and not just 5 months!
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Old 05-01-2013, 01:46 PM
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I think it's one of those things where, if you talk to your dog in plain English like they will understand you, they... learn to understand you LOL.

Kota used to understand "Kota, come play with your brother" for whenever Happy was bothering us. He would sigh and get up and come over and start playing with Happy hahaha. Auggie knows a lot of phrases that if I thought about it would be weird, but like I said, I talk to him like he understands English so it's not weird unless I think about it. XD
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Old 05-01-2013, 02:05 PM
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I wonder that too... mainly since Cali does seem to "know" the meaning of certain phrases and actions.

"Cali, I think mom is home!" prompts an immediate full blown running to the house with the occasional check to see if I am following.

Walking towards the door with a ball prompts her running to the door and nudging at her long line.

That's only a few examples, I always just find some of the things she does amusing and somewhat interesting. Chaz might just have some abnormally smart (whether or not it's a good thing ) dogs. Even at twelve, Moses has a relatively limited vocabulary although that might be due to the difference in training, etc... he is great with hand signals though.
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