No, I don't believe they can understand the entire human language in the way that some people believe. I think they pick up on body cues, and more words than people might realize. I hadn't read the above story but it surprised me that it just involved the dog understanding the word "treat." The dog didn't understand the entire sentence said by the child. The dog is well trained and socialized and let the kid lift its lips and look at its teeth (all of my dogs do this with no fussing) and it heard the word "treat." My dogs know the word treat and know where the treats are kept as well. My dogs know that after certain things they get a reward. They get their nails clipped and then run to the treat jar. They go to bed at night and know they get a treat before bed. The child may have made a move to get up and the dog knew it had done something good (teeth check) and had already heard the word treat and put two and two together. I do not believe the dog can understand, "OK, you check my teeth and I'll wait then go get a treat." Even if that's how it may appear.
Out of all my dogs, Akira knows the most words and can readily pick up many words used in everyday vocabulary. I don't believe she truely understands when I'm talking to her randomly, but she certainly understands many everyday words. She knows what her ball is, and she knows when she brings one (the cuz or kong ball) and we tell her to get the "other ball" she is to bring a different one that we use for indoor playtime vs the harder kong and the cuz which randomly bounces when it hits the ground.
Yes I think they are intelligent, but they read body language and learn words and cues.
Last edited by Rerun; 11-15-2010 at 09:16 PM.