How Big Is a Pet’s Vocabulary?
The animals in our home seem to catch on to quite a bit of our verbal communication. We know that they read our body language, behavior, and emotions. They pick up mental and visual images. But we’ve been noticing the human language they recognize.
Seems like we’ve heard that dogs have up to about a 300 word vocabulary. Of course, parrots’ vocabulary can be incredible. So we’ve been experimenting with our cocker spaniel Leaf to find out which words have been imprinted on his young brain.
It’s more difficult to figure out with cats. Do they really not know words such as “Don’t scratch that,” and choose, cat-like, to ignore the plea/command? It’s easier to tell what words our bird knows. He says, “Hello,” and “I love you, sweet baby.”
Below are a few of Leaf’s vocabulary achievements.
Popcorn: mentioned at any volume from any part of the house, brings him running
Carrots: see above for popcorn
Banana: see above for popcorn and carrots
Greenie: see above for popcorn, carrots, and banana
Pampered Pooch: his favorite doggy day care center
Dog park: brings him and his orange ball to the back door, fired up and ready to go
Up, up, up: entices him to jump onto the bed for a squeeze, kisses, and a tummy rub.
Tummy, tummy, tummy: elicits a rollover that’s faster than money moving from a 401K to an IRA account
Squeaky toy: causes him to root through his collection for favorite toy of the moment
To be fair he still remembers, sort of, his dog school training commands:
Sit (more like, squat for a second),
Stay (more like, pause),
Shake (more like, wave your paw around),
Down (more like, I’ll think about it and decide if I want to)
What human words do your pets respond to?
Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network – Where Pets Are Family