Chairman Bao is a Shih Tzu. We travel a lot. I drive. He watches. We've logged at least 10,000 miles and he's never once said, Sweetheart, don't you think you should stop and ask someone?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

We think dogs can't talk. But I think we're wrong, and here's why.

Besides barking, dogs make all sorts of sounds. Some of them -- like barks, whines and yelps -- we understand. But Bao has an entire repertoire of gurgles, trills and mumbles, many of them polysyllabic. For example, when I come home from shopping he's delighted and says something that sounds like, Brow-gru-grum-grumber-brow-brow-brummer.

Talking is using sound to communicate.We teach children to talk by talking to them. They learn by imitating us. We talk to our dogs, too. But they can't imitate us because they can't make the same sounds we make. They may understand, but they can't reply. How frustrating!

Where human beings are concerned, there'ssupposedly a window of opportunity for language learning. Leave it too late, and the child never learns to speak. Maybe it's the same for dogs. Maybe they've got to learn while they're puppies.

But suppose someone made sounds to a puppy that the puppy could imitate? And then linked those sounds to concrete ideas like toys and water and walks. Mightn't the puppy learn how to "ask" for a toy, or a drink of water?

Any takers?


Blogger Dogwalkmusings said...

Bacchus has always talked and we know exactly what he's saying. Trouble is he all too often pretends he doesn't understand what we're saying, like "come" or "no!"

2:18 PM

Blogger Miss Poppy said...

So often I see that look in Miss Poppy's or Lily's eyes saying, you stupid human, why don't you understand what I am trying to tell you ....and those humans call themselves educated !

Chris, Miss Poppy & Lily

11:48 PM


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