If you’re a dog owner, you probably heard your dog say something that sounds almost like a real word. There are tons of videos on Youtube where dogs say “I love you” (“aaah roooo uuu”), “hello” (“aaah llow”), and so on. But can they actually TALK?
In 1912, Harry Miles Johnson of Johns Hopkins University said "no” to this question. He wrote that the speech of a dog is "the production of vocal sounds which produce illusion in the hearer.” Yes, dogs can communicate with each other, but we can’t call it TALKING.
So what are dogs doing when they say “aaah llow” (“hello”)? Gary Lucas of Indiana University Bloomington states that it's more appropriate to call it imitating than talking. They can imitate what we’re saying as well as they do because it’s easy for them to pick up on the differences in our tonal patterns – they use tones to vocalize their emotions when they communicate with each other.
Your day may say something very similar to “I love you” but they actually have no idea what it means. They’re just doing it for cookies.