How Many Sounds Does Your Dog Know?

cocker spaniel puppy

I lost count. That is my answer to, “How many sounds does your dog know?”

Dogs in general, it is believed, have the ability to discern dozens and dozens of words. Dog lovers of the highest order know this is true, right? Try saying (or hand signaling if your dog is deaf), “treat, “or “ball”, or maybe “wanna go for walk?”

“They may not be Einsteins, but are sure closer to humans than we thought,” said Stanley Coren, a professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia and leading researcher on dog behavior, told CNN in an interview. Coren says the average dog can understand about 165 words that include signals, gestures, and signs. They can also count to about five. Try taking 2 treats out of the bag and only giving your dog one. Been there, done that. I get the hairy eyeball as a result.

But exactly how many sounds do dogs know? If I go to get a bottle of water out of the refrigerator, my dog, Dexter, will stay put comfortably napping in the living room. If, however, I open a slice of packaged cheese, boom: Instant Cocker at my feet. He “hears” that cheese wrapper and is there with eyes pleading. When the mailman is a block away, he knows the sound of his truck. Vehicle after vehicle can pass by, but when he “hears” the sound of the mail truck, he is excited and waggy and lets out the “hey mom, mailman is here!” bark.cocker beach

I wonder how many sounds my dog knows, and how many sounds in general, do dogs know? Of course,  thunder elicits a whole different type of reaction, but he knows the crack boom of the sound long before I even “hear” it.

Interestingly, when my neighbor’s dog barks, my dog will bark back. If any other dog comes to visits or a “strange” dog lets out a woof woof, my pooch gives nary a reaction. He knows sounds. I think in my “gotta know” dog mom personality, I’ll start paying more attention to how many sounds he knows.

fidose of realityHow many sounds do you think your dog(s) knows? Bark at me below in the comments.








  1. Gizmo knows the sound of me taking his treat jar out of the fridge versus getting myself a glass of iced tea…he can hear keys from 100 yards and he knows the sound of my Jeep pulling in versus other vehicles…he doesn’t bark at my car, but stands at the door wagging for me…he knows the sound of me putting on shoes in the other room….i am convinced they learn the sound of everything that is important to them or that makes them happy and know so much more about our daily lives than we give them credit for

  2. I love Stanley Coren. How many sounds Jasmine knows? I didn’t count, but all those that are RELEVANT. (e.g. fridge and cheese wrapper). Not only she knows all the sounds that have any importance to her, she knows their sequences and timing. You can tell when there is a sound/or a sentence she doesn’t know what it means, or when there is a familiar sound out of place etc. Besides that, she also reads thoughts :p

    • Jada, I SO can relate to reading thoughts. Most of all, I love how my dog has trained me. He will stare at me and often times, I know what he is asking for. Cocker mind melt I say. 😉

      • LOL I’m pretty well-trained myself. It’s usually very obvious what Jasmine wants, she knows how to communicate well. What is really funny, is when she wants something and you offer her a pet on the head instead. She normally loves pets but at these times she almost jump away sideways from under your hand and then looks ate you again. “You know that’s not what I want.” (happens particularly when you’re supposed to be taking her for her walk already – she ain’t gonna exchange a walk for a pet. LOL

  3. a TON!! Dakota can hear us coming from outside our condo building (in the garage)…he absolutely HATES the sound the coffee pot makes when it turns off…..
    He knows the sound of the butter spray (before I spray it, when I take the cap off)….he HATES any sound related to butter…(yes…strange dog, I know)…if you open a tub of butter he knows the sound just by the lid coming off. He is insane

    • ROFL, insane. Love it – these are the things I wonder about. Dogs are realllllly smart and these things they do prove it over and over.

  4. I always know when daddy’s car pulls up out front. And when mummy stands outside the front door trying to find her keys in the bottom of her bag 🙂

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