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Mon May 27, 2013, 10:32 AM

Dog sniffs out grammar A border collie takes command of sentence rules

http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/350585/description/Dog_sniffs_out_grammar



A border collie named Chaser participates in an experiment testing her ability to understand commands given before she can see any of the objects named in those directives. After hearing a four-word command, Chaser consistently turned around and carried the correct item from the head of the bed to the living room, where she placed it next the appropriate object. Credit: Courtesy of J. Pilley

Chaser isn’t just a 9-year-old border collie with her breed’s boundless energy, intense focus and love of herding virtually anything. She’s a grammar hound.

In experiments directed by her owner, psychologist John Pilley of Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., Chaser demonstrated her grasp of the basic elements of grammar by responding correctly to commands such as “to ball take Frisbee” and its reverse, “to Frisbee take ball.” The dog had previous, extensive training to recognize classes of words including nouns, verbs and prepositions.

“Chaser intuitively discovered how to comprehend sentences based on lots of background learning about different types of words,” Pilley says. He reports the results May 13 in Learning and Motivation.

Throughout the first three years of Chaser’s life, Pilley and a colleague trained the dog to recognize and fetch more than 1,000 objects by name. Using praise and play as reinforcements, the researchers also taught Chaser the meaning of different types of words, such as verbs and prepositions. As a result, Chaser learned that phrases such as “to Frisbee” meant that she should take whatever was in her mouth to the named object.

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Reply Dog sniffs out grammar A border collie takes command of sentence rules (Original post)
xchrom May 2013 OP
HillWilliam May 2013 #1
Major Nikon May 2013 #3
RebelOne May 2013 #7
robinlynne May 2013 #10
HillWilliam May 2013 #18
Frustratedlady May 2013 #2
Major Nikon May 2013 #4
1monster May 2013 #6
Major Nikon May 2013 #8
1monster May 2013 #5
Orrex May 2013 #9
elleng May 2013 #11
IDemo May 2013 #12
Bosonic May 2013 #13
LWolf May 2013 #14
Egalitarian Thug May 2013 #15
ThoughtCriminal May 2013 #16
Yo_Mama May 2013 #19
BainsBane May 2013 #17
woo me with science May 2013 #20

Response to xchrom (Original post)

Mon May 27, 2013, 10:53 AM

1. I live with borders and cattledogs

Their ability to key into speech is uncanny. My youngest, a BC/ACD mix is a sponge for commands. I've been training dogs by using "building block" commands for years. BC's run on praise, ACD's run on rewards; both pick up commands like nobody's business. The youngest showed a propensity for running and jumping (clearing a 4' fence flat-footed like a mountain goat -- to my great dismay!). It took about 5 minutes (and a handful of treats -- she IS half cattledog after all <lol> to redirect her to jump through a hulahoop. She got the concept of "around" and "through" right away.

It amazes me how creatures who are supposedly bereft of language centers grasp commands almost immediately, then can generalize the building blocks into more complex tasks. One thing I've noticed with my dogs is that the borders, once having grasped a command, will do it by the book, exactly the same way every time. A cattledog seems more likely to generalize and will vary execution of a task to fit a new situation.

Maybe that's just my kids. I never said any of us was normal <lol>

They love showing off how smart they are. We put on a show every time we go out together. They come home all confident and happy having been the center of attention

Thanks for the post. Any post with a border in it gets my K/R.

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Response to HillWilliam (Reply #1)

Mon May 27, 2013, 11:44 AM

3. In my house ball is pronounced B-A-L-L

Even at that, my male border collie has figured out what it means. I have two and they pick up on voice commands very quickly and can always be given in normal conversational tone.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #3)

Mon May 27, 2013, 12:25 PM

7. I had a Rottie that learned what R-I-D-E spelled.

Whenever I would say the word she would become all excited. Finally, if I had to say it, I spelled it. It didn't take her long to figure out what it meant.

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Response to HillWilliam (Reply #1)

Mon May 27, 2013, 01:21 PM

10. okay. my border and I need to visit you. I think it takes a good trainer for a border to be

so smart.....Or else mine just knows she can command me.

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Response to robinlynne (Reply #10)

Mon May 27, 2013, 02:23 PM

18. LOL I expect

The latter is probably the case. They're extremely quick to figure out who's boss. In this house is usually the one with thumbs to open the cookie-box. Just usually, LOL

A cattledog learns just as quickly but will find every possible way to skip the task and go straight to the treat.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Mon May 27, 2013, 11:30 AM

2. I live next door to two border collies and they are amazing.

As soon as they see me out, they zoom over with a ball, Frisbee or stick to throw. They understand and respond to all commands and are the most loving of dogs.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Mon May 27, 2013, 11:49 AM

4. Border Collies are amazing dogs, but I should offer one word of warning

...to anyone considering getting one.

They aren't the best dogs around kids because they will often try to herd them, which includes nipping at their heels and can be quite frightening to small children. Both of my BCs are rescue dogs. One was rescued from a family who had a small child in which the dog wasn't compatible.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #4)

Mon May 27, 2013, 12:22 PM

6. Shetland Sheep Dogs and some German Shepherds also do the nipping at the ankles

herding...

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Response to 1monster (Reply #6)

Mon May 27, 2013, 12:39 PM

8. There are lots of different herding dogs

Border collies are just generally the best at it, and due to their widespread use for that purpose are still being bred for it. Not all border collies will do this with kids just like all herding dogs, but it's just more likely that they will.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Mon May 27, 2013, 12:20 PM

5. Dogs and Cats understand more language than we humans give them credit for...

Our cats and dogs often respond to things we humans are saying to each other as well as to the specific or group of animals.

I think that our furry family members are limited limited in language only by the physical inability to form human words. Even so, my little Shih Tzu often responds to being given a treat with two little one syllable grunts that sound remarkably like "thank you." And no one taught him to speak.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Mon May 27, 2013, 12:50 PM

9. They tried this on pit bulls but the researchers kept getting mauled

Nyuk nyuk nyuk.

Very cool article. Anyone who's owned dogs can corroborate these findings, at least anecdotally, to some degree or another. AFAIK it doesn't appear that dogs have shown the ability to convey language in the way that they're responding to it here, but it's interesting to see the depth of their skill at interacting with human speech.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Mon May 27, 2013, 01:27 PM

11. Great OP and replies. THANKS!

X-post @ Pets?

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Mon May 27, 2013, 01:36 PM

12. Chaser impresses another great mind

Neil Degrasse Tyson

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Mon May 27, 2013, 01:46 PM

14. My aussie,

with little to no formal training, responds to words, gestures, and tone of voice. She probably could have been taught to do some amazing things by someone with the time to do so.

Here, though, she just knows simple words and gestures, like "come," "sit," "down," "stay," "out," and "ah," which means no, or don't, or stop.

She responds just as well to a hand gesture for any of the above.

She's the only dog from a herding breed I've had. I've wondered if other "herding" dogs are as safe with cats and chickens, as loyal to home and to one person, as uninterested in chewing or digging or running off, as she is.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Mon May 27, 2013, 01:49 PM

15. On my sister's car:

 


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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Mon May 27, 2013, 01:50 PM

16. But can she tell the difference between "To", "Too" and "Two"?

If she can, she can post here without abuse.

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Response to ThoughtCriminal (Reply #16)

Mon May 27, 2013, 03:00 PM

19. This is DU

No one gets to post here without abuse.

In fairness, a lot of the news is frustrating and disturbing these days, so it is not that surprising that many of us would have nerves close to the surface.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Mon May 27, 2013, 02:21 PM

17. Can she edit a run-on sentence?

in the title of an OP?

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Mon May 27, 2013, 09:07 PM

20. K&R

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