You know for sure when your dog wants to play of need to go out, but there are some moments when his barking are a bit more cryptic.
Therei some hope! An American has managed to pull off what was previously thought impossible: she's trained her beloved Stella how to talk.
Unfortunatelly, the Catahoula/Blue Heeler mix can't hold a conversation at the pub with its own voice box, but it can communicate basic commands with the help of a soundboard.
Owner and speech-language pathologist Christina Hunger started using the technology when the dog was just eight weeks old. Now Stella is 18 months old and she can say 29 words and even string them in a sentence!
Speaking to PEOPLE, Hunger said: "I'm in constant amazement and shock. Every day she says something cooler than she said the day before.
"The way she uses words to communicate and the words she's combining is really similar to a 2-year-old child. I think how important dogs are to their humans. I just imagine how much deeper the bond will be."
Unsurprisingly, the dog's favourite word is 'walk', followed closely by 'beach'.
Writing on Instagram, where Christina keeps people updated about Stella's progress, she said: "Stella uses language differently when she's in a heightened state versus when she's calm!
"Today when she heard some noises outside and wanted to go investigate, I told her we were staying inside.
"Stella responded by saying, 'Look' 9 TIMES IN A ROW, then 'Come outside'. She was clearly in a more frantic state, and her language use matched that. We all sound differently than normal when we're in distress, Stella included!
"I'm impressed that Stella is communicating with language during her more heightened states, not just when she's calm and in a quiet space. This shows me that words are becoming more automatic for her to use.
"It's similar to when a toddler starts using language to express himself during times of frustration instead of only crying. That happens when it's easy for the toddler to say words, not when he's still learning and it takes a lot of focus to talk."
Stella surprised Christina when it was standing by the door and whimpering one day.
After a bit of pacing back and forth, the dog went over to its soundboard and said 'Want', 'Jake' 'Come', saying that she wanted Christina's partner Jake to come home. In about 15 minutes, Jake walked through the door and Stella said the word 'Happy'.
Christina hopes to expand Stella's word use in the future to see just how many phrases the dog can muster.
I AM MIND BLOWN Last night after coming inside, Stella said “Come eat come play.” I was pretty sure she meant that she wanted to eat dinner then play, but I asked, “Do you want to eat or play?” to clarify. • Stella licked her lips, paused, and responded, “Want come eat.” After Stella ate, she immediately dove at her toy and started playing. • AHHH! This is amazing for so many reasons! Stella told me a sequence of two things she wanted to do. Then, I asked her a question containing two options, and she answered with a short phrase confirming her original message! Stella even expanded her own phrase from “Come eat ” to “Want come eat.” The speech therapist side of me is completely amazed, and the dog mom side of me is incredibly proud. Yay, Stella!! • • • • • #hunger4words #stellathetalkingdog #proud #slpsofinstagram #speechtherapy #AAC #ashaigers #slp #corewords #SLPeeps #slp2be #aacawarenessmonth #earlyintervention #languagedevelopment #dogsofinstagram #dogmom #doglife #dogs #animalpsychology #doglover #dogvideos #sandiegodog #catahoula #blueheeler #smartdog #dogcommunication #mydogtalks #animalcommunication #interspeciescommunication #loveanimals