Posted on January 30th, 2011by
In Language acquisition, Research | Leave a Comment »
The dog’s name is Chaser, and she has been taught by Alliston Reid and John Pilley in a series of experiments which have been published in the journal Behavioural Processes. Chaser learned the names of 1,022 objects before she stopped being trained because of time constraints on the authors. From Science Daily:
This study demonstrates Chaser’s ability to learn the names of proper nouns, and her extensive vocabulary was tested repeatedly under carefully controlled conditions. The authors admitted that she remembered the names of each of her 1022 toys better than they could. Chaser’s ability to learn and remember more than 1000 proper nouns, each mapped to a unique object, revealed clear evidence of several capacities necessary for learning receptive human language: the ability to discriminate between 1,022 different sounds representing names of objects, the ability to discriminate many objects visually, an extensive vocabulary, and a substantial memory system that allowed the mapping of many auditory stimuli to many visual stimuli.
Reid compared Chaser’s language learning ability to that of a child’s:
“This research is important because it demonstrates that dogs, like children, can develop extensive vocabularies and understand that certain words represent individual objects and other words represent categories of objects, independent in meaning of what one is asked to do with those objects.”
Further research is needed to see if the results can be replicated in other breeds of dog, but it probably wouldn’t hurt to use this theory when training your own dog!