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Soubresaut's avatar

Has a dog ever been taught to recognize words?

Asked by Soubresaut (13700points) December 10th, 2010

I’ve got my girl, Frolich, sitting on my lap and resting her head on the keyboard as I try to work : )

But that got me thinking and wondering. Dogs have been able to learn mathematic problems, and are well known for being able to take word-based commands.

So I began to wonder if it was possible to, theoretically or in actuality, to teach a dog some written words?
Like, teaching them SIT means “sit” or something?
And how far do you think it could go, if you think it’s possible?

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18 Answers

lloydbird's avatar

Yes. And surprisingly long words too. I have known several that clearly understood the word Geeraatovit or Gettafugaatoveer.

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mrentropy's avatar

I’m guessing we’re talking written words, not verbal?

Soubresaut's avatar

@mrentropy—yes!! Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

@ucme—so cute. I’ve also seen a dog trying desperately to say people words, and coming out with an almost-there whispering of it

I’m really curious about it now…

ucme's avatar

@lloydbird Yeah, have to agree with you there. Our dog is fluent with Aww-whadda-madda-den :¬)

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@mrentropy I presume that “written” is what is meant here, and not to be too persnickety (but kind of persnickety just the same), all words in language are “verbal”, whether written or spoken. The spoken ones are “oral”.

Qingu's avatar

Very doubtful that a dog could understand written words. Chimps can understand symbol images, though.

mrentropy's avatar

@CyanoticWasp I know you can’t resist the urge to get in my face, but I know what ‘written’ and ‘verbal’ are. I asked because it seemed some people were steering more towards the verbal than the written. Granted, it’s not my place, but I thought I could make the effort without too much drama. Evidently, this is not the case.

ratboy's avatar

This is not quite “writing,” but the doggie genius here (at about 5:00) seems capable of operating with symbols.

ccrow's avatar

@noelleptc That reminds me of my GSD Bruno… when he was a pup & we would talk to the older dogs, he would look back & forth from them to us, & vice-versa, with a bewildered look. He obviously knew he was missing something!!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I doubt they can read words. They might be able to work with symbols, and understand spoken words. But it’s more association than understanding the language, I think.

crisw's avatar

Yes, although what the dogs really are doing is seeing the word as a symbol.

MissAnthrope's avatar

True story: I was sitting at a table outside a cafe, drinking coffee. Standing outside nearby was a guy with a dog and several large 2’x2’ cards with words like “SIT”, “DOWN”, “SPEAK”, etc. written on them.

I had the best seat in the house and I couldn’t believe my eyes – the dog was able to follow the commands on the card without a word or a gesture from its owner. As I sat there, I watched the guy go through the cards several times and the dog got it right each time.

It was very unusual, but very cool!

downtide's avatar

I once counted all the spoken words my dog recognises and responds to, and it was over 30. I’ve also taught her basic signs/hand signals for commands like sit, stay and down. Never thought of teaching her to read though.

@MissAnthrope that’s amazing about the dog reading the cards.

anartist's avatar

You mean they don’t?
Sit. Stay. Shake. Fetch.
They are different words uttered in the same tone of voice.
Trained dogs don’t mix them up.

YARNLADY's avatar

Yes, of course they can. They can also learn to respond to ASL.

downtide's avatar

@anartist I think the OP was talking specifically about dogs recognising written words.

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