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Translating Woof Into the Human Language. Seriously?

Would you be interested in knowing what your dog thinks? Do you want him to tell you in words when he’s hungry or tired? How about what he feels when he meets a stranger? Well, new technology is in the works that will have your dog speaking to you with the answer to those questions.

A small Scandinavian research lab called Nordic Society Inventions and Discovery is attempting to create the first device to translate animal thoughts into English. The new technology is called “No More Woof” and it looks a little like an over-sized, bulky headset for Fido.

The Way It Works: Their Indiegogo project states, “No More Woof aims to develop a small gadget that uses the latest technology in micro computing and EEG to analyze animal thought patterns and spell them out in human language using a loudspeaker. But we admit, we are optimistic dreamers, so even more importantly we want to raise AWARENESS about this area of science, and point others to the potentials!”

While No More Woof is in its early stages of development, the first sensor equipped device is scheduled to be available in April 2014. It is designed to “distinguish two to three thought patterns, most likely tiredness, hunger, and curiosity.”

Getting The Dogs To Wear It: In observing the dogs’ behavior in the video in relation to the people around them, none of the dogs wearing the device in the video seemed very happy. Their body language told me that they were tolerating wearing the bulky instrument on their head, but they weren’t enjoying it. It’s clear that no science based dog training had been used that would encourage the dogs to associate a positive feeling with wearing the device. While the Nordic Society Inventions and Discovery may know a great deal about science, they clearly haven’t learned how to apply that to the dogs.

At 1:19 in the video, the inventor calls over his dog with the device in his hand. As she gets closer, her tail stops wagging. As an observer (assuming this dog knows him, which is likely considering that she is hanging out in the office), it’s obvious to me that she has been made to wear this uncomfortable device before and will comply with having it put on, but not to her enjoyment. He then says “Sit” three times before she does so. The fact that he then pushes her behind down is another indicator that he is lacking information on the science behind dog training and behavior.

At 1:56, he puts the device on her. Again, she stays in compliant behavior but appears miserable and stressed. She drops her head, looks away from him, and licks her lips. Lip licking in dogs is often a calming signal that appears when a dog is feeling stressed in her environment.

Alternatively, there are ways to easily build up a positive association in dogs with wearing the device. But, dog training tips would need to be added to every unit sold, and purchasers would need to read and follow those tips. My guess is that not everyone purchasing advance orders is interested in putting in the extra time and effort it takes to build that positive association.

Why You Don’t Need It: When I first heard about No More Woof, I wondered why anyone would even want a device that tells them in English what their dog thinks. A device isn’t needed to understand what dogs think and feel. Knowledge of dog behavior is. Dogs spend all of their time observing their humans and figuring out what our body language means. Are we really that lazy a species that we can’t read books and watch videos that help us learn what they are thinking and feeling? There are so many wonderful ones on the market by science based dog trainers such as Karen Pryor, Ian Dunbar, and Victoria Stilwell.

What do you think? Would you want your dog’s thoughts to be translated into words? Thanks for sharing in a comment below and on Facebook by clicking the Facebook logo to the right of the video.

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Lisa Spector

Lisa Spector is a concert pianist, Juilliard graduate, and canine music expert. She is co-founder of Through a Dog's Ear, the first music clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system. Their new high-tech pet gadget, iCalmDog, is the portable solution to canine anxiety. Lisa shares her home and her heart with her two "career change" Labrador Retrievers from Guide Dogs for the Blind, Sanchez and Gina. Follow Lisa's blog here.

232 comments

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11:35AM PST on Feb 5, 2014

I know exactly what my dog wants at any given time. Why do we need to stifle our human intuition, when we should be expanding it by learning how to "read" instead of "control, command and discipline" our dog, cat or any animal for that matter.

11:19AM PST on Feb 5, 2014

Very funny.

8:29AM PST on Jan 23, 2014

Instead of buying this useless devise, just donate the money to an animal shelter.

8:19AM PST on Jan 23, 2014

Ridiculous.

5:55AM PST on Jan 22, 2014

thanks

2:22AM PST on Jan 13, 2014

I'm sure someone will eventually create a smaller device--some kind of chip to implant in the dog.

10:12PM PST on Jan 12, 2014

thanks for the article

7:17AM PST on Jan 12, 2014

Pretty much the only time I can't figure out what one of my animals is thinking is when they are sick and there is no obvious reason. And when that happens, I take them to someone who CAN figure out what is wrong--the Vet. I don't think that there is a real need for this contraption.

2:46AM PST on Jan 12, 2014

well said, Nils Anders

6:04PM PST on Jan 11, 2014

My Basenji told me this is a bunch of hooey.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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