I’d like to know if dogs or cats understand multiple languages. I speak to my animals in French, Spanish, and English and my neighbor is convinced that they understand. I think they do too! Is it just the sound or the word itself or could they be multilingual?
Richard Chenaux, Savannah, GA
I have to applaud you for trying to teach the dog to be multilingual! It takes time to teach dogs new sounds – and that’s what the word is to him - a new sound. He’s learning “what does it mean” and “is this what he wants.” It’s conditioning, which is healthy, because a dog wants to figure things out with you, and wants to look to you as his pack leader for direction, but in reality, they don’t use a rationality where they say, “now you’re speaking another language.” Remember, dogs communicate through energy. They do make sounds to communicate a certain feeling like excitement or as a warning, for instance. But the sound and what we hear as humans is not a language as much as it is a dog communicating their instinctual needs. Watch their body language with each other – that is a powerful language! And it’s why we as human pack leaders need to understand dog psychology so we can speak their language too. Your dog knows two (or many) sounds that trigger a certain behavior, and this is what makes people think he’s multilingual. But, it does show how much a dog wants to please its human. I need your dog – an amazing assistant to work with me and show people what is possible!