Can Dogs Be Bilingual? Read This First!

Wondering why your dogs understand and respond well to your commands? Have you thought that perhaps they may be bilingual or have a higher level of intelligence than other pets? You are thinking in the right direction, but you still need to get a bit more informed.

can dogs be bilingual
Can Dogs Be Bilingual?

Indeed, dogs are amazing animals. They have co-evolved and co-existed with human beings for a long time now. They are our most common furry friends that seem we can’t do without. We domesticated them, but it appears that we domesticated each other.

Without dogs evolving along with us, we would not have such great playmates and best friends. Who knows if humans would ever come across another pet option as loving as dogs? Our interactions with dogs also give us humans another novel area of specialization—training and caring for our furry friends.

However, can dogs be bilingual? No, they can’t — because they can’t speak. They can simply understand and respond to commands in any language you expose them to over time. It will also vary from breed to breed how well they understand words and what their specific meanings in communication are.

An interesting fact about dogs is that they can hear four times better than human beings. They are wonderful creatures by nature. All it takes to engage in clear communication with a dog is to associate frequently with them and train them using specific language and body signals.

They tend to learn and understand these cues over time without much trouble. You will eventually see your dog responding to commands without any difficulty. It then makes perfect sense to conclude that dogs understand the human words they are subjected to.

Similarly, security officials train their dogs for certain security purposes, such as when dogs are used to locate a culprit or a bomb to deactivate. This makes learning specific commands and obedience extremely important, regardless of the language that’s used to teach the dog to react. These dogs learn only to show aggression when specifically instructed.

Speaking of which, dogs are friendly animals that are amazing to be with—unless they have rabies, which is deadly to man. In that infected condition, they don’t even recognize their owner, and this could be detrimental if anyone approaches them during that time. Therefore, stay away from dogs with rabies to prevent infection.

It is not yet over, though. Stay tuned to get an in-depth explanation on the topic of whether your dog may be bilingual or not.

Dogs Cannot Be Bilingual, But They Can Understand and Respond to More Than One Language

Dogs are not naturally bilingual. They can’t speak or write, although they have vocal cords used for vocalization similar to that of humans. They can only understand and respond to any language to which you introduce them.

The manner in which you train them matters, too. Over time, they become acquainted with the languages you’ve exposed them to. This then allows you to communicate with them with ease.

Once you can communicate well, you can start teaching them any desired language(s) through training and reinforcement. It should be noted that dogs learn well and faster with one word from a language for each behavior. Therefore, don’t use two words from different languages for the same desired behavior at a time.

This understanding is why they sit when you command them to sit down. Because they have heard the same word repeated in numerous instances over time, they now know what it means. Your body language while you command them to sit is also a factor, and that determines if they will learn the commands faster or not.

Dogs also communicate non-verbally with their owners and other dogs. They do so through their body language and also by expression through their other natural behaviors. By learning about these traits, you can learn more about their nature and way of life.

One example is when they wag their tails around. This means that they are friendly to approach and play with. When a dog displays this cheerful behavior, you can go ahead and play with them without the fear of being attacked.

Another example is when a dog keeps opening their mouth, panting with its tongue out, or barking—this signifies aggression. That serves as a signal that you are not allowed to come near them or else you’ll experience a reaction from them that hurts.

Learning dogs’ languages is a necessity for an owner and a huge factor when it comes to enjoying the best moments with your dog. However, the five freedoms of animal welfare shouldn’t be tampered with when it comes to dog management. Humane treatment of dogs should be the norm always, even though you are the owner. 

How To Train a Dog to Be Bilingual

One of the ways to enjoy friendship with fellow humans is through effective communication. But building friendships in this way doesn’t exclude our furry friends either— I mean, our dogs!

Below are some of the tips on how to train a dog to be bilingual:

  1. Be patient with your dog if they don’t learn as quickly as you’d like.
  2. Use only one word from the same language to achieve the desired behavior while teaching them.
  3. Be consistent with the words and body language you use.
  4. Be consistent with the training without ignoring their fundamental freedoms.
  5. Make it fun and easy for your dog to understand more quickly and learn the words.
  6. Say some encouraging words to your dog even though they may not respond well while training— they’re still learning!
  7. Praise them when they do well by using positive words like “Good dog!” or another phrase. 
  8. Engage them in regular exercise aside from training.
  9. Teach them non-verbal language too, such as using hand signals, etc.
  10. Be aware of their health since it provides the basis for training.

Do Dogs Speak Among Themselves?

Are you fascinated by the idea that dogs communicate with each other? Well, they actually do! You can see a dog barking at its counterpart, and that is just one form of communication between them.

They usually speak in a non-verbal way by using their body language.

An example is the release of pheromones by female dogs in heat, which is an important phenomenon seen in dogs. It’s a signal that they are indeed in heat and it’s the best time to mate them. The pheromones are what are perceived by the male dogs, and that makes them run over the female to mount and copulate.

Another example is when two or more dogs cooperate to take down a thief. They won’t stop until they embarrass or subdue the culprit or until the owner apprehends the culprit himself.

Some of the dog’s communication signs and meanings include:

  • Soft eyes, ears forward, and mouth open indicate a relaxed facial expression.
  • A dog with eyes looking away, ears to the side, and teeth clenched suggests some level of anxiety.
  • A dog with staring eyes, ears forward, and teeth showing indicates an intimidated dog.
  • Pupils dilated, panting, and a tense jaw suggests a fearful dog.
  • A dog with its head down suggests a submissive or depressed dog.
  • A dog may also bite its counterpart while avoiding any sensitive parts—this is a form of play.
  • A dog resting its head on another dog’s back shows its dominance over the other dog.

Therefore, just by watching and focusing on your dogs, you can often figure out their communication with other dogs. By doing so, you can learn even more about them as time goes on. You will also grow to get a full understanding of their natural behavior. 

Related Questions

Can my dog be multilingual?

No. They can only understand many languages when trained to do so. It’s left to you to train them in the manner you want them to act, and that includes the languages you prefer. You should also consider the tips mentioned earlier while training them so that you can get the best out of your dogs.

In What Language Do Dogs Think?

Dogs are unlike human beings in that they cannot read or write. They don’t think in words and symbols the way that humans do, as that isn’t their natural behavior. They can, however, be taught to recognize symbols, words, and the actions attached to them.

You can only achieve this through a series of careful training sessions, though. Give them time and be patient while teaching them. You can also buy your dogs toys to play with to enhance their emotional well-being.

Loving Owner Petting Adorable Dogs
Loving Owner Petting Adorable Dogs

What Are Dogs’ Thoughts Like?

Did you know that dogs have brain structures that produce emotions just like humans? They do! They possess the same hormones just like humans and experience chemical changes that humans have in varying emotional states as well.

They can be emotional anytime! Oxytocin, an important hormone responsible for love and affection in humans, is also present in dogs. This justifies the love that dogs have for their owners and caregivers. This is also the reason they are kept as pets more than any other animals in our surroundings. 

Dogs also attain their full emotional range when they reach 4 to 6 months old, unlike humans who don’t emotionally mature until they’re much older. A dog has basic emotions such as joy, fear, anger, disgust, excitement, contentment, distress, and love.

However, a dog would never have complex emotions like guilt, pride, contempt, and shame. Those emotional states can’t be found in other pets or other animals—only humans are known for that.

stuart and his dog

Family Dog Expert Author

Hi there! I’m Stuart, a devoted dog lover and family dog expert with over a decade of experience working with our furry companions. My passion for dogs drives me to share my knowledge and expertise, helping families build strong, loving bonds with their four-legged friends. When I’m not writing for SirDoggie, you’ll find me hiking, playing with my beautiful dog, or studying music.