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With dogs, it’s not just what you say but how you say it

Courtesy of NEWStat

When it comes to canine patients, matching the pitch of your voice with words of praise isn’t just natural. It is also the most effective, according to a new study. Researchers from Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary studied how dogs process speech and concluded that they are a lot like humans. In fact, dogs use the left hemisphere to process words, and the right to process intonation. Further, praising triggers a dog’s reward center when both words and intonation match.

The paper was published in the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s journal, Science, on Aug. 29.

The researchers trained 13 dogs to lay motionless in an fMRI brain scanner while they measured the dogs’ brain activity as a trainer used both praise words and meaningless words with both praising and neutral intonations. As they did, the researchers watched for brain regions that differentiated between meaningless and meaningful words, or praising and non-praising intonations.

“[Our study] shows that for dogs, a nice praise can very well work as a reward, but it works best if both words and intonation match,” said lead researcher Attila Andics, PhD. “So dogs not only tell apart what we say and how we say it, but they can also combine the two, for a correct interpretation of what those words really meant.”
 

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COVID-19 Service Announcement

June 29, 2020

Tampa Bay Animal Hospitals adjust to providing care during the re-opening of Florida associated with human coronavirus COVID-19 by continuing Curbside Concierge Service, Telehealth, and Mobile Services, but we look forward to resuming limited in-hospital outpatient appointments as soon as we have sufficient confidence that we can do so safely.

We remain committed to caring for our patients and meeting their health care needs in the safest and best way possible. Be assured that we continue to follow CDC guidelines and federal, state and local recommendations for practicing social distancing. We have established a phased plan to resume normal services to see our patients for healthy pet exams, all procedures and surgeries and urgent care needs.

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