The pitter-patter of tiny feet is one of my favourite sounds to come home to at the end of a long day. And I’m convinced that my dog, Izzie, is just as elated to see me as I am to see her.
But what’s she really thinking when I open the front door and our eyes meet? Is she simply excited for the dinner I’m about to feed her, or do we have a real bond?
To find out more, we spoke to canine behavioural researcher Julie Hecht and Duke University professor of cognitive neuroscience Brian Hare, who wrote the book The Genius of Dogs, and hosts a new podcast called DogSmarts.
Here are a few of the recent discoveries that Hecht, Hare, and other scientists have made about dogs:
7- Why does my dog get so excited whenever I say the word “walk”?
Dogs, like dolphins, apes, and parrots, can learn a series of vocal commands or words. One dog, a border collie named Chaser, learned more than 1,000!
Researchers say Chaser used a process called ‘fast-mapping’, or inference, which is pretty similar to how human children learn language skills.Basically, it involves guessing the meaning of a word based on the object that is being used in conjunction with that word.
So if you’re constantly saying “walk” and then fetching your dog’s leash and taking him outside, he may be able to infer that the word “walk” has something to do with the action of going for a walk.