guy baby talking a labrador

We love to teach our dogs new skills. After all, they tend to respond well to our direction, and their response is often worth the effort of our teachings. We tend to use words when teaching our dogs things and communicating with them in general. But dogs can also perceive our body language, so can they understand our words?

Yes, dogs can understand the words that we speak. However, the number of words that a particular dog can understand is up for debate. We do have a basic understanding of how many words a dog can understand, which can help us better communicate with them. Here’s what you need to know.

The Average and Maximum Number of Words That a Dog Can Learn

The American Psychological Association notes that on average, dogs can learn about 165 words that humans speak. Top-performing dogs can apparently learn about 250 words! On top of that, dogs can generally learn how to count up to 5. They can even recognize when simple computations are done incorrectly! Dog breeds that are recognized as being “more intelligent” or more easily capable of learning words and numbers include:

The truth is that there are few experiments and research papers to refer to when trying to determine just how many words a dog can learn. Any particular dog may learn fewer than 165 words or more than 250 words within their lifetime.

training a yorkshire terrier dog
Image courtesy of Pixabay

How to Teach Your Dog Words

The best way to teach your dog words is to continually utilize the same words when referring to a person, place, or thing. If you use nicknames or alternate words for these things, your dog may get confused and not understand what you refer to as time goes on. Focus on teaching your dog one word at a time. Choose a person, place, or thing, and then refer to it/them several times a day with emphasis while communicating with your pooch.

Once your dog seems to understand a word, move on to a new one. Incorporate the words that you’re teaching your pooch into their obedience training to ensure that they understand what you are communicating to them. Also, it is important to avoid repetitively using words to describe things that you don’t want your dog to learn whenever possible.

In Conclusion

Dogs can learn many words, so it is important to be careful which words we teach them. If we yell and say bad words around them frequently, those are the words that they will learn and they will likely associate them with negative feelings. Teaching your dog words that correlate to a task or item is a great way to train them to do a variety of different things, from putting their toys away to putting themselves in their kennel before you leave the house.

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