The key to getting your dog to understand you is to always use the same word for the same thing, he added. Exaggerating tone can also help. Many owners have instinctively learned to do that with both their dogs and their children.
Where dogs come short is in creating new vocalizations. It is thought that dogs are incapable of producing novel, meaningful sounds -- something that humans can do with relative ease.
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"Nevertheless, we know that they can learn to vocalize on command, which suggests that they have some capacities to voluntarily control their vocalizations, which can be the basis of vocal learning," Andics said.
As for other pets' ability to understand us, it is at least clear that cats, horses and many other animals understand our intonation. Angry, sad, anxious, happy and other tones "are universal, or at least they are similar across species," Andics added, referring to mammals.
Brian Hare, the author of the best-selling book "The Genius of Dogs," and associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University, told Discovery News that the new study challenges two big ideas. The first is the long-standing belief that left hemisphere lateralization is a signature of human language evolution. Dozens of studies have tested this theory in humans and other primates to pinpoint when the ability evolved.
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