Coco, this dog who communicates with his mistress thanks to a sound carpet

Meiyun Xu, a language science student at the University of Dijon (Côte-d’Or) in the text and culture multidisciplinary center laboratory, is trying to prove that dogs can communicate and thus express their needs. The 29-year-old, originally from China, began her experimentation with her own four-legged friend, Coco. Since he was three months old, he has been using a sound carpet to communicate with his mistress.

The dog, now 10 months old, knows 34 words. He has the option of asking for a ride, a meal and even explaining that he is tired or bored. “I recorded the words with my voicedetails Meiyun Xu. But, I never forced him to use it. It is a supplement. » Coco presses buttons most frequently ” player “, ” exit “, « manger », “caress”. He had more difficulty assimilating the word « aide ».

Meiyun Xu did not invent this system, specify our colleagues from Parisian. The mat was first developed by an American speech therapist. But Coco’s mistress created this rug herself from a baby foam template.

Tests from April 2022

Meiyun Xun, who arrived in France in 2015, embarked on this experience as part of her studies. Registered for a doctorate, she works on the teaching of language to animals. “At first, I wanted to do my research on primates using a touch screen. But I couldn’t do it. Logistically, it was easier with a dog. » That’s how she adopted Coco. The young woman, who loves animals, is not the first to embark on such an adventure. “In the United States, other experiments have taken place. »

She explains to us: “Scientific research has shown that dogs understand the intonation of sentences by their right hemisphere and the meaning of sentences by their left hemisphere in a way very similar to the human brain. » After several months of living together and testing, Meiyun Xu is certain: Coco knows how to talk. But, the student will have to prove it thanks to an experimental protocol from April 2022. Coco will have to recognize toys and distinguish between large and small objects. Her mistress will analyze her success rate but also her thinking time before deciding whether to continue this experiment.

A lack of scientific data

Meiyun Xu shares her work on social media, as spotted The Public Good. She created the account Hello_cocospeaking sur Facebook and Instagram. “I receive less than 5% of messages from skeptics”, she explains. But she admits lacking scientific data to prove that Coco speaks the same language. When he presses a button, does he really want to express this idea? Is he using his mat simply to play or to attract attention? “I have already swapped the buttons several timesassures his mistress. It really expresses a need because in 90% of cases, it is consistent with the context. »

If the results of the experimental protocol are positive, Meiyun Xu plans to include other dogs. “I already have interested people who have contacted me. » Thanks to her work, the young woman hopes above all to improve communication between dogs and humans.

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