The simple answer: yes! Recently, scientists have determined that dogs not only understand words but also tone.
They approached this process by using an fMRI to measure brain waves on dogs. Then as certain words were spoken, different tones were taken. First they started with “good boy!” in praising tones. Results showed the pleasure center in a dog’s brain light up immediately. They then used the same words, but a different neutral tone. This didn’t result in the pleasure center lighting up. Researchers then used meaningless words, said in a praising tone, and still did not light up the pleasure center.
This means that dogs do understand our words and feelings. They have a deeper meaning than we had originally realized. The study goes on to point out that although dogs understand these things, it doesn’t mean dogs understand language in the same way we do. Regardless, dogs understand and learn so much from their human owners. They get familiar with routines and schedules. It’s amazing to me how my dog knows when I’m about to leave the house before I give any obvious signs. This is because dogs know us and pick up on things we may not even think they realize.
It’s amazing how far science has come in understanding dogs and it’s so exciting to move forward with it!