Scientists have found evidence to support what many dog owners have long believed: man's best friend really does understand some of what we're saying.
Researchers in Hungary scanned the brains of dogs as they were listening to their trainer speaking to determine which parts of the brain they were using.
They found that dogs processed words with the left hemisphere, while intonation was processed with the right hemisphere — just like humans.
What's more, the dogs only registered that they were being praised if the words and intonation were positive; meaningless words spoken in an encouraging voice, or meaningful words in a neutral tone, didn't have the same effect.
"Dog brains care about both what we say and how we say it," said lead researcher Attila Andics, a neuroscientist at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest. "Praise can work as a reward only if both word meaning and intonation match." [source]