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Can Your Dog Read Your Thoughts?

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Have you ever wondered if your dog can read your thoughts? We still don’t know the answer to that question completely, but it’s now been proven that dogs can understand our intent to communicate with them. In a study reported by Science Daily, The Hungarian Academy of Sciences has been studying human-dog interaction and communication to find out just how receptive they are to us.

Can Your Dog Read Your Thoughts?

Dogs pick up not only on the words we say but also on our intent to communicate with them, according to a report published online in the Cell Press journal Current Biology.

The findings might help to explain why so many people treat their furry friends like their children; dogs’ receptivity to human communication is surprisingly similar to the receptivity of very young children, the researchers say.

“Increasing evidence supports the notion that humans and dogs share some social skills, with dogs’ social-cognitive functioning resembling that of a 6-month to 2-year-old child in many respects,” said József Topál of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. “The utilization of ostensive cues is one of these features: dogs, as well as human infants, are sensitive to cues that signal communicative intent.”

Those cues include verbal addressing and eye contact, he explained. Whether or not dogs rely on similar pathways in the brain for processing those cues isn’t yet clear.

Topál’s team presented dogs with video recordings of a person turning toward one of two identical plastic pots while an eye tracker captured information on the dogs’ reactions. In one condition, the person first looked straight at the dog, addressing it in a high-pitched voice with “Hi dog!” In the second condition, the person gave only a low-pitched “Hi dog” while avoiding eye contact.

The data show that the dogs were more likely to follow along and look at the pot when the person first expressed an intention to communicate.

“Our findings reveal that dogs are receptive to human communication in a manner that was previously attributed only to human infants,” Topál said.

As is often the case in research, the results will undoubtedly confirm what many dog owners and trainers already know, the researchers say. Notably, however, it is the first study to use eye-tracking techniques to study dogs’ social skills.

“By following the eye movements of dogs, we are able to get a firsthand look at how their minds are actually working,” Topál said. “We think that the use of this new eye-tracking technology has many potential surprises in store.”

Continue reading here. In my opinion, the finding in this study are only the tip of the iceberg. Dogs, when well bonded with their human companion, seem to have a more than basic ability to communicate. Whether they’re just sensing our intent to communicate or if our dogs can actually read our minds, our pets have an uncanny ability to at least make us feel like they understand.

I’ve been told that my dog, Molly, walks to the door to wait for me, long before she can hear my car coming down the street – even though I come and go at different times throughout the day. Sometimes, when she’s laying down on the other end of the room, not looking in my direction, if I simply look in her direction and smile, thinking to myself how much I love that big pup, she’ll pick her head up and look at me, as if she heard me speaking aloud. Do you have any experience with your dog seeming to read your mind? Tell us your thoughts below.

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24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Avatar Of Pb

    pb

    says:

    My dog just read my mind, that is why I googled the subject and found this site. I was just sitting down and started to think that I would like to take her for a walk. I never said anything to her and I didn’t even look at her. All of the sudden she gets up all excited and goes over the the drawer where she knows her leash is…Sure seems like she read my mind.

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  3. Avatar Of Sally Sandler Bitan

    Sally Sandler Bitan

    says:

    There is no question in my mind that my golden retriever understands most of what goes on in our lives and has an opinion about things as well. He contributes kindness, acceptance and field smarts to my family at every opportunity. Winston is a dear friend and a contributor of decency to the world in general.

  4. Avatar Of Kathy Takayama

    Kathy Takayama

    says:

    I feel my dogs can definitely read minds. They are indoor dogs but when I take them outside before I get ready to leave, some of them won’t come in on purpose because they know I’m trying to leave. I also believe they can tell time. I don’t know how they do it but my daughter gets home at a regular time from work and on the days she goes out after work, they still run to the door waiting for her to come in even though she hasn’t come home. They even give you a look, an expression as if to say “are you leaving soon?” Difficult to explain but we say all the time “they can read our minds”.

  5. Avatar Of Barry Gleave

    Barry Gleave

    says:

    Whenever I think about taking my dog for a walk when I am finished what I am doing she will go to the door and wait till I am ready to go.
    I have mentioned to my wife many times that she must be reading my mind.

  6. They definitely can! SO many stories, but the most solid regards bath time. I learned long ago not to say the B word, even to my wife. Spelling it doesn’t help. Then I found that if I so much as think seriously (like making plans to ready the towels and such) before I even touch towels or shampoo BOTH dogs will disappear on me. Normally they’re my shadows. They know what I’m thinking.

  7. Avatar Of Mayo Lambert

    Mayo Lambert

    says:

    I believe dogs can “read” us. My Service Dog, Minnie, senses when I am in pain – having a balance problem – or my eyes are worse than usual – and is on point for me to lean on or lead me. She is a blue heeler and has been wonderful for me – not the normal lab or shepperd.

  8. Avatar Of Templa Wyatt

    Templa Wyatt

    says:

    I used to run and would often take my JRT, Rosie along. She knew the difference when I would be putting on my running clothes and not just getting dressed. If I were getting dressed for running she would start going crazy knowing whe was going to go with me. And it wasn’t the same time of day so you can’t say she was conditioned to that. And the times it was too hot for her to go and I would tell her so she would get so down.

  9. Avatar Of Joyce M Lanthier

    Joyce M Lanthier

    says:

    Somehow, my dog always knows when I am down to my last bite on my plate, or if I’m eating a sandwich. I don’t understand how this is…she’s been taught not to beg, but at the last bite or forkful of a meal, she knows and will come over even if she’s sleeping or if she’s preoccupied. THAT is weird!

  10. Tara also knows hand signals for up ,down, outside and all gone. She knows when its time for dad to be home and goes to the door.

  11. Avatar Of Nancy Clark

    Nancy Clark

    says:

    I had a dog named Bear who would get up and walk to the bedroom when I had just thought of going to bed. I tested him many times. Then I started thinking things like, “I love you with all my heart” and he would run to me wagging his tail and lick me. When he was not within my eyesight, I would think, “Where are you Bear?” and he would show up and look at me like “What do you want?” He was definately intuitive.

    • Avatar Of Julie

      Julie

      says:

      Nancy. You are absolutely right. I have a friend who is an “animal communicator”. She does this over the phone and all over the world. Her name is Patty Summers. She is AWSOME ! check out her web site. PSAnimalcomunications … Or just google her name. She has written books…one published in Chinese . I adopted a dog who’s previous person passed with cancer. The dog BUDDY was grieving so bad he wouldn’t eat. Patty told him we too grieved his other person and we were her friends ( hubby and I). She explained that we came looking for him to give him good home. Long story short…..patty turned our Buddy around. Check her out! And pass the word about her.
      Julie in VA

  12. It seem to me that dogs are quite adept at reading body language. Reading thoughts might be a bit of a stretch. They always seem to know when your mood is up or down.

  13. Avatar Of Nancy Nancy says:

    There is a great documentary called DOGS DECODED its on the discovery channel on occasion. I have watched it several times and it never stops amazing me. I love my dogs, but this documentary has taught me so much about them. Did you know that humans tend to focus toward the left side of the face when talking they do this because the left side shows the most emotion. Dogs are the only animal that also focus on the left side of our face… They are reading our emotions! Dogs are also the only animal that can understand a human finger point. Not even monkeys do this, only mans best friend. Just last night our frenchie was sitting on my lap. His ears perk up and he starts staring at the door. I told my husband, he heres the truck coming. About fifteen minutes later, my son comes through the door. I think they have supper sensitive hearing and a great sense of intuition.

  14. Avatar Of Joy

    Joy

    says:

    My dogs can tell if I’m going to work or staying home by how I dress. They’ve also figured out when it’s time to go to Nana’s by my packing which, they can tell is different from other chores like cleaning. And I swear my standard poodle tries to push his thoughts into my head, which are normally, “you want to take me outside, you want to take me outside!”

  15. Avatar Of Valerie Thomas

    Valerie Thomas

    says:

    This is an interesting book by Rupert Sheldrake for those of who are interested in this topic: “Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home” (1999).

  16. Avatar Of Lori Weed Skarka

    Lori Weed Skarka

    says:

    I’ve taught my dog sign language and when I sign to him he responds! No, he doesn’t sign, but he knows what they mean! If I catch him looking at me and I wink at him, he starts barking (or talking!). Outside all I need are hand signals to let him know a squirrel or rabbit is near by and what direction. Kind of neat!

  17. A few years ago, I had hurt my left shoulder, my then 45# dog Querida topped at the bottom of the bed & asked if she could jump up. I said yes, but I also told her to be careful of my hurt shoulder. She got up, approcced my shoulder & licked it!! WOW!

  18. Avatar Of Jan Johns

    Jan Johns

    says:

    I know that when I am sad, Scully is always right by my side and very cuddly. He also “gets it” when I dress to go without him and/or when I dress and he gets to go too. Have tested this with no verbal contact and he just knows the difference. When I am sick, he will not leave my side. THEY know!

  19. Avatar Of Ida Plata

    Ida Plata

    says:

    I don’t always give my dogs table scraps but when I do I make a point of neither addressing nor even looking at them. I will silently cut up a piece of steak or hamburger and they will all come to the baby gate that keeps them out of the kitchen and wait patiently; eyes on me and tails wagging.

  20. Avatar Of Sandra Sellar

    Sandra Sellar

    says:

    One of my dogs seems to understand very well. Today I walked outside with gloves and a garbage bag and said to her “Do you want to help me weed?” We both arrived at the weeding area at the same time and when I reach down to pull one, she was next to me pulling on a weed with her teeth. Spooky!!

  21. Avatar Of Kristina

    Kristina

    says:

    I know for sure that my dog knows what I am thinking, I’ve tested this out if I look at him and smile he is very alert looking back at me and wags his tail. Even if I have excitement in my eyes and don’t so much show it in my face or wiht a smile he’s staring back at me waiting for my next move and he is ready to respond in a positive way whether he runs and grabs a toy or comes up to me and gives me a big smooch.

  22. she is very aware of what is going on . If I put on my shoes we are going someplace, even if its out in the yard for a few minutes
    When I spray my hair she crates up because she knows I’m going someplace she cant go. Then if she realizes she does get to go she gets so excited. I see her thinking “I love you Mom.”

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