Friday 15 November 2019

On the astounding intelligence of dogs

I bet you didn't know dogs could understand English did you? I did, I've known for a long time actually. It's one reason why the press always use photos of dogs coming out of polling stations; they have just been inside to help their owners vote. I bet some of them can probably talk.

The reason I know that dogs are fully conversant is that I frequently witness dog owners having conversations with them. As in proper conversations. Well, maybe slightly one sided conversations, but conversations nonetheless. None of these curt commands that you might expect for a dog, but proper english sentences. For instance, on the way to work this morning I saw a fat old dog come waddling out of a house to greet a builder who was looking at the driveway with the owner.

"Now Jack, I told you to stay inside didn't I? So what are you doing outside? No! This man hasn't come to see you silly, he's here about the drive. You go back inside now please, off you go, there's a good boy. No! I said no Jack. Jack! Jack!! JACK!!!"

Jack wasn't in a listening mood.

I see it quite a lot on Wanstead Flats as well. Take Billy for instance. Amazing levels of comprehension, or at least I assume so otherwise why would you bother?

"Billy! BILLY! Why are you jumping on the man Billy? He doesn't want to play, he's busy, come along now, just leave him be. Now stop it Billy, come this way. Oh what's this over here Billy? Can't you see he's looking at birds and isn't interested in your ball. Why don't you come over here with me Billy and we'll go this way. Come on Billy! Billy! BILLY!!!"

Astonishing. Not only can Billy understand english but he also knows what binoculars are! Although Billy is not your average dog, the owner must have thought I was distinctly dim-witted and couldn't understand basic words like "sorry", as even when Billy was putting paw prints on my suit trousers I wasn't acknowledged in the slightest. 

Although Billy was clearly a bit of a canine superstar he, like Jack, couldn't have given two shits about what his owner was rabbiting on about and simply ignored her. Very rude when she has gone to so much extra trouble.

I have seen many other dog geniuses of course, but I expect you get the picture. One day I'm going to visibly let my draw drop when I encounter one, and pretend I've never seen a talking dog before.

"Oh my God!!! I mean wow!! How did you teach your dog to do that?!! That's mad, a dog that can understand english! I mean that's incredible!! You're just speaking to your dog as if he were a person. Unbelievable! I've never seen that before, so impressive. I bet that dog is worth a fortune, you're so lucky. Does he, you know, ever talk back?




  1. As someone co-owned by three dogs, I think being a dog is much like a person living with a family who speak a language you don't understand. You'd soon form a modus operandi which relied heavily on interpreting just how happy or fed up the family was with you from their general demeanour and the way they spoke, and hence whether or not you were likely to be rewarded or punished for what you want to do. Consequently most dogs are expert manipulators and negotiators. Speaking to them as you would a person is reasonable, as you are giving them clues as to your overall mood for them to interpret, which they generally do.

    1. I think my overall point was that chiding a misbehaving dog as if were a two year old child is simply never going to be effective.

  2. It's quite simple. If you treat a dog like a human, it'll treat you like a dog. And since dogs are basically shit machines which lick their own genitals and eats other's waste, I can only imagine what sort of household it is which speaks English to the things.
    I suppose households like yours DD let their pets lick them on the lips. The thought of what that dog has just eaten...

    1. my dogs said you don't know what you are talking about, as they shared a curry with me. Mind where you tread.