By Matt Zajechowski
Preply surveyed over 1,000 dog owners in America on their experiences with communicating, both verbally and nonverbally, with their four-legged friends.
Our dogs may not understand our slang words and colloquialisms, but their ability to comprehend human emotions and even some of our language is profound. Dog lovers find that their canine friends do more than just fetch balls and beg for treats. They’ve become empathetic listeners and an essential part of each dog owner’s emotional well-being.
To find out more about the connection between dogs and humans, Preply surveyed over 1,000 dog owners in America on their experiences with communicating with their four-legged friends.
Our survey reveals that the average American dog is familiar with 18 human words, which extend beyond basic commands like “sit,” “treat” and others that are typically learned.
Here are the top 10 words respondents tell us their dogs know
4. Bye Bye
8. Ice Cream, TV, & Happy (all tied for 8th place).
Most intriguing is the finding that the top human word dogs know is “love.” The word “happy” also made our list, suggesting that dogs recognize not only household items and common activities but also terms associated with affection and positive emotions.
This highlights a depth to canine comprehension that, perhaps not surprising to dog lovers, offers a new dimension to our understanding of their cognitive abilities.
The survey also showed that, unsurprisingly, most dog owners have a deep emotional bond with their furry companions. A striking 66% of respondents report that they view their dog as more human than a pet. This also hints that, for many, dogs are considered part of the family, transcending their role as mere animals.
We all have a deep-seated desire for connection, which forms the essence of learning languages. As our survey illustrates, communication goes beyond mere words into the realm of emotional understanding, a truth universally acknowledged by dog owners and language learners alike.
The majority feel heard when talking to their dog
When it comes to human-dog interactions, our study suggests that dogs are more than just companions – they are empathetic listeners as well.
Nearly half (45%) of dog owners report having conversations with their dogs multiple times a day. Interestingly, these daily dialogues are more common among women, with 55% engaging in such conversations, compared to 36% of men.
A generational breakdown reveals that Gen Z leads in daily dog conversations, with 40% admitting to such interaction, followed by millennials at 32%. Meanwhile, boomers and Gen X trail slightly behind at 28% and 27%, respectively.
The perceived effectiveness of these interactions is also striking. During these conversations, a majority (77%) report feeling heard emotionally by their dogs. This high percentage suggests that many perceive their dogs as not just active listeners but empathetic ones as well, providing a sense of emotional support.
Such supportive behavior from our dogs is manifested in different ways. Almost 3 in 5 dogs reportedly provide comfort when their owner is upset or emotional. In addition, a majority of owners (62%) affirm that their dog seems to intuitively understand their thoughts without any verbal cues.
This heartwarming finding further reinforces the strong emotional bond between humans and dogs, suggesting a level of understanding beyond words.
Feeling heard is a huge necessity in our everyday lives. From business to education, feeling understood plays a huge role in our happiness and productivity. At Preply, we strive to help our language learners gather the skills they need to make themselves heard and communicate effectively regardless of circumstances.
If you feel more emotionally understood by your dog than by your partner, you’re not alone
Dogs’ ability to understand and empathize with human emotions appears to surpass that of even our closest human companions. When sad or upset, 42% say their dog is more comforting to them than their human partner.
This corresponds exactly (42%) to those who have experienced their dog sensing their mood more accurately than their human partner. These figures suggest that our four-legged friends have an innate ability to pick up on emotional cues, even when their owner is not outwardly expressing their mood.
Further emphasizing the deep emotional bond between dogs and their humans, 1 in 4 report that their dog understands their mood – when showing it through talking, body language, and other communicative behaviors – better than their partner does.
Our survey also reveals a noteworthy gender difference. Of couples who own dogs, 42% of women say they feel more emotionally understood by their dog than their partner. This sentiment is shared by 28% of men, suggesting that while this feeling is more prevalent among women, a significant portion of men also relate to this experience.
Overall, a third of dog owners in America admit that they feel more emotionally understood by their dog than by their partner, highlighting the uniquely empathetic nature of our canine companions.
Our dogs love what we love
It turns out that dogs notice not only their owners’ moods but also their interests, with our survey suggesting that our furry friends might understand and respond to our technological habits, as well.
Nearly a third of dog owners have observed their dogs becoming excited when they FaceTime someone. This finding aligns with a study by Rover, which indicates that dogs can recognize individual voices, extending their recognition skills to digital communications.
And the trend doesn’t stop with video calls. A significant 3 in 10 dog owners say their dogs react positively – tail wags or perked ears – to TikTok sounds.
Clearly, dogs don’t merely live alongside us. They are intimately connected to our emotional states and share in our experiences, even in the realm of technology.
From paws to Preply
Whether it’s spoken or emotional, language plays a pivotal role in the relationship between humans and dogs. Our loyal companions may not articulate words as we do or grasp our jargon, yet they respond to our emotions and expressions, demonstrating they are far more than passive recipients of our words.
These insights shed light on how communication extends beyond spoken language. The parallels between our interactions with dogs and language learning underscore the importance of understanding and emotional connection.
Just as we strive to comprehend and connect with our canine friends, successful language learning also requires a profound connection and an innate desire to understand and be understood.
It’s here that Preply, with our network of online language tutors, becomes instrumental in your language learning journey. Preply believes in fostering a sense of connection and understanding, akin to the unique bond we share with our dogs.
And, with one-on-one attention, personalized lesson plans, and an understanding approach, our tutors foster an enriching learning environment that mirrors the comfort and understanding we share with our canine companions.
Our goal was to survey 1,000 or more people because a sample of this size can provide a more accurate representation of a population, allowing for generalization of the results to a larger group. This reduces the margin of error and helps make more informed decisions based on the data collected. With this larger sample size, we have more data points for statistical analysis, increasing the reliability and validity of our conclusions. This enables us to draw stronger inferences about population perceptions on communication with dogs as a whole.
On July 17 and 18, 2023, we surveyed 1,004 dog owners in America on their experiences with communicating with their dogs. Respondents ranged in age from 18 to 76 years old and were 48% female, 50% male and 2% nonbinary.