Meet Chaser - the Dog Whose Vocabulary Is Over 1000 Words!

by Tanya Thomas on  January 10, 2011 at 9:34 AM Research News
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Ever wonder if your pet dog can understand what you are saying? Well chances are it might, and to prove it, is a pet border collie that can understand more than 1000 words.
 Meet Chaser - the Dog Whose Vocabulary Is Over 1000 Words!
Meet Chaser - the Dog Whose Vocabulary Is Over 1000 Words!

According to psychologists Alliston Reid and John Pilley, Chaser, the border collie, has managed to learn made up names of 1,022 toys, which included frisbees, balls and stuffed animals.

The two psychologists worked intensively with six-year-old Chaser for three years to see how large a vocabulary she could command, and they found that she was able to learn and remember them all.

Chaser, owned by Dr Pilley, was also able to sort them according to function and shape, something children learn at around three.

"We wanted to see if there was a limit to the number of words a dog could understand, and if they could understand the name of an object rather than just respond to a command related to an object, such as fetch," the Daily Mail quoted professor Reid as saying.

"We worked with Chaser for four to five hours each day testing her on the words over and over again and were able to establish that she could remember and distinguish between them all.

"We"re not saying this means dogs can learn language in the same way children do, but it does show they are capable of learning many more words than might have been thought," Reid stated.

During the research at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Chaser was introduced to the toys one by one, and then the name was repeated to reinforce the association.

She was also regularly tested on her entire vocabulary, and groups of 20 toys were chosen at random and Chaser had to retrieve them by name.

Chaser was also taught to combine three different commands with the toys - "paw" (move it with your paw), "nose" (push it with your nose), and "bring".

She completed 838 of these tests over the three years and never got less than 18 out of 20 right.

"It"s very inspiring. Many owners think their dogs are capable of understanding a lot more than they might feel comfortable with letting on about and now science seems to be saying they"re not mad to think so," Beverley Cuddy, editor of Dogs Today magazine, added.

The findings have been published in the New Scientist magazine.

Source: ANI

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