Our four legged friends might not talk to us, and they tend to get their point across very well without words, but language still plays a major role in their lives. Our Wordfish office dog Jack investigates whether dogs can be bilingual.
Hello! Jack here, taking a break from my intense workday routine of snoozing, dozing, napping, drowsing, resting my eyes and generally being a major player in the translation industry, to shed some light on whether dogs can be bilingual. In short, OF COURSE WE CAN, FOOLISH HUMAN – any trained dog is bilingual in Dog and Human. That concludes my blog, back to bed I go.
Oh, is that not enough? What a ruff deal…
Personally, I have little interest in what my owners say to me and prefer to feign ignorance so that I can focus on my life’s work of sniffing every square inch of Surrey but many of my furry friends are well versed in human speech and some can understand more than one language!
There’s no reason why you can’t train your dog in whatever language takes your fancy and we can even understand the same command in different languages, if you train us consistently. But if you live in the UK and train your dog to assis then don’t be confused when he/she won’t sit down when asked in English! We’re not mind readers, you know. If you move to a foreign country, you might want to think about training your dog in the native language so that he/she will understand other people, just in case they run off and get into mischief.
Some people prefer to train their dogs in a different language to the one they speak themselves. That way, the dogs won’t get confused if they hear a command word come up in conversation. I suspect this is a particularly sneaky way of trying to trick us into a visit to the V-E-T.
Sometimes the tables are turned and it’s us dogs who have to teach the humans a thing or two! Certain UK or US police dogs, like the Belgian Malinois or German Shepherd are bred and trained in their home country and their handlers need to learn to relevant commands in order to work with them. Now, if only we could convince them to speak Dog…
I’ve been on the old dog and bone to some of my international friends and we’ve come up with a crash course to make your dog a linguistic genius (maybe…) but will have to save this for another time because I’ve just heard the word Walkies …
And once that’s done I’ll get back to the serious work of catching some zzzs.
Until next time!
Jack & the Wordfish team