New research suggests dogs are able to selectively lock onto the sound of a human voice, even in acoustically crowded environments.
The study, conducted by a team at the University of Maryland and published in a recent issue of Animal Cognition, examined the responses of dogs when their names were spoken in increasingly noisy environments.
The dogs in the study were able to recognize when their names were spoken, even when other background vocalizations were present. Only when the background noise eclipsed the sound of the dog’s name being spoken did dogs lose the ability to pick their names out of the din.
The ability of the dogs studied surpassed that of year-old human infants (who were only able to recognize their name when no background noise as present) but fell short of adult humans (who could recognize their name in even the noisiest conditions).
“Dogs are social creatures who pay attention to the adults around them and have evolved to do so. In some sense, they are a really good comparison to infants.”
— Rochelle Newman, co-author & Chair of the University of Maryland’s Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences
For more information about the study, read the full version in Animal Cognition.