I was delighted to discover the Canine Language Perception Lab (thank you, Karen Campbell)! Located in Maryland (USA), this research lab is filled with folks who respect dogs. They view them as sentient beings with feelings and thoughts. Dog participation is voluntary and dog guardians stay with the dogs while they’re being “studied.”

I share this information from the Canine Language Perception Lab’s website. They’re located in College Park, Maryland.

Overall purpose – how do dogs understand speech?

Researchers document how and when dogs differentiate speech from noise. They do this by using tests already designed for human adults and children.

Recognizing speech in noise

The purpose of learning what noises interfere with dogs’ hearing is to offer more information for those who train service dogs. Dogs’ range of hearing is wider than ours, so noises that don’t register for us could interfere with their ability to hear human speech. These tests provide data on which noises make hearing speech more difficult. Which are more distracting.

As they explain, “By learning more about how dogs compare to adults and children on these tasks, we hope to inform training programs for service dogs, preparing them for the most challenging and distracting of environments in which they must work.”

Learning words and categories

Researchers in the Canine Language Perception Lab (and dog people) know dogs that live with humans have a vocabulary of words they understand. They’d like to figure out how dogs categories things. For instance, little kids who learn what “doggie” means, might at first see all furry four-legged animals (cats, rabbits, foxes) as “doggies”. How do dogs decide what things a word applies to?

Recognizing different languages in the Canine Perception Lab

And they want to find out if dogs recognize “foreign” languages as a language. They’re researching English speaking households and other-language households to see if there’s a difference.

And I bet there are dogs who are fluent in more than one language. I know people whose dogs spend time with their parents (who may speak mostly Spanish or Hindi at home) and then return to them and hear more or mostly English.

Ethical research at the Perception Lab

I applaud these researchers who gain information through non-force and mutual agreement. They work to make the tests fun so the dogs choose to participate. That demonstrates respect for other sentient beings. The Perception Lab would love more participants. If you’re intrigued and you’re a commute’s distance from College Park, Maryland, visit http://dogs.umd.edu/for-dogowners.html.

The animal communicator canine perception lab

Using intuition, I usually converse easily with peoples’ animals. Many of these non-humans communicate with words, but they also communicate with images, physical feelings, memories and emotions. I am fascinated by how they share information with me. And I get to share that with you!

Looking to have a conversation with your animal?

Maribeth can help!

Do you think your dog (or whoever lives with you) is fluent in your language or even bilingual? I’d love to hear a story or two!