Dogs are amazing creatures; we can see this by how easily they can be trained and how they interact with us regularly.
But their fantastic ability to learn and be trained can leave you wondering how your dog’s brain works and what language your dog thinks in.
What Language Do Dog Dogs Think In?
Dogs don’t think in any language. Instead, they respond more to urges and feelings. For example, when they are hungry, they will simply look for food because they recognize the feeling of hunger. However, they don’t think about how hungry they are; they act based on instinct.
This article will cover what dogs think about, how much they understand what we say, and what language they understand most easily.
So if you want to learn more about how your dog’s brain works, keep reading.
What Does a Dog Think About?
Have you ever caught your dog staring off into space, looking like they are contemplating the complexities of life?
You might wish you could have a peek into your dog’s thought process at that moment and find out what they’re thinking about.
Most likely, dogs think about being happy, angry, scared, or even stressed. Though they don’t think in words like humans, they may still be able to recall images. Dogs are also capable of dreaming, which does suggest some level of thought processing beyond just responding to base emotional urges.
So really, dogs are capable of thinking about many basic emotions like:
We can’t know exactly what a dog’s thinking as science hasn’t progressed that far yet. However, we can tell the basics of what canines are thinking.
For example, if you notice your dog running in their sleep, there is a good chance they are dreaming about running or playing.
STOP – Before carrying on with this post, you might enjoy this video looking at animals and language.
Just click the image to start playing:
Do Dogs Have a Voice in Their Head?
So even if dogs don’t necessarily think in any specific language, it leaves another question – do they have their own inner dialogue as humans do?
Do dogs hear their voice in their head when they think?
Dogs do not have a voice inside their head. Unlike humans, dogs think more in images and urges rather than in complete sentences or symbols. Dogs instinctively respond to needs rather than having an inner monologue to plan how they will fix their problems.
So as you can see, a dog’s thought process is somewhat different than our own, though quite complex in its own way.
Nevertheless, dogs still have needs and wants that they can think about, though not in as much detail as humans.
How Much Dogs Understand When We Speak
Dogs are incredibly smart creatures and understand more of what you say than you think.
However, they don’t comprehend language as a whole. Instead, they pick up on keywords or phrases and the actions related to those words.
For example, when you say outside and take them out, they will begin to register that they will be let outside whenever they hear that word.
They don’t understand the word exactly, but they recognize the word’s sound and related actions.
So in the future, they will listen for these keywords and tend to ignore other filler words that they don’t believe pertain to them.
This is why it’s easiest to train dogs using smaller words and phrases such as:
These are just a few examples of words that dogs can easily recognize when associated with the corresponding behavior.
Scientific America published a study where dogs’ brains were analyzed after training the dogs to respond to different words and hand signals such as ‘treat.’
The scientists then showed dogs the signal for a treat. Finally, they watched how the dogs’ brains lit up with recognition. This study shows the complexity of the dog’s brain and that they can recognize words and signals from their owners.
Another study by the Cell Press journal Current Biology discovered that dogs have dedicated areas in their brains that recognize voices and are sensitive to human sounds and emotions.
For example, this study showed that dogs could recognize crying, laughing, and other emotions tied to certain words or sounds.
What Language Do Dogs Best Understand?
Interestingly enough, you would think the language you speak to your dog doesn’t matter. However, that would be incorrect.
Some languages are easier for your pet dog to pick up on than others. So what is the most straightforward language for a dog to understand?
Dogs understand German best. German words are simpler for dogs to pick up on, and many commands are short and, therefore, more accessible for dogs to remember. This is why dogs are often trained using German words.
A few other easier-to-learn languages for your dog include:
Ultimately, your dog will pick up on the words you use, no matter which language you speak.
So there is no need to learn another language to help your pup understand what you are saying.
Note – Interestingly, some police forces train their dogs using a foreign language so that random people cant take control of the police dogs by commanding them.
Imagine if a police dog was chasing a thief, and he could say, “sit and stay,” and the dog obeyed!
NOTE – Click here to read this post if your dog ignores you.
Do Dogs Have a Sense of Humor?
Dogs can often do things we interpret as funny or silly but do they know they are doing this? Do they actually have a sense of humor?
Dogs do have a sense of humor or at least a sense of fun and play. They may do things that make their owners laugh to get attention. For example, your dog may run away from you when you are trying to bring them inside, and every time you get close, they zoom away at the last second.
So it’s unclear if your dog knows when it’s being funny or simply responding to the favorable attention its actions get. Either way, it’s adorable.
Final Notes On What Language Dogs Think In
Ultimately dogs don’t think in a language as humans do. They do not use words or phrases or plan ahead as people do.
Instead, dogs seem to think more in pictures and by responding subconsciously to urges such as the need to:
- Use the bathroom
- Seek out affection
All in all, dogs are much smarter than some people give them credit for, but they don’t think as humans do and don’t think in a particular language.
Tim is a proud, vetted, and experienced dog foster carer for a charity helping dog owners escape domestic abuse.
He has years of experience training and caring for dogs, both his own and other people’s.
He is an expert in canine behavior and is highly skilled in dealing with all dogs but specializes in the difficult ones that other people may struggle with.
When he isn’t fostering dogs, he is making friends with other people’s pups!