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Taking the dog talkies!

MANY DOG owners have made the observation that their dog "understands every word I say" and also pride themselves on any sounds the dog might make as an attempt at communication.

Now they may get a chance to indulge in meaningful conversation with Rover thanks to a new Japanese device which, its manufacturer’s claim, can enable a dog to ‘talk’ to its owners.

Scientists have created a special collar with and in-built ‘translation’ system, which they claim can convert the dog’s own natural noises into language. The £60 device – called Bowlingual is said to be 90 per cent accurate.

Phrases ‘spoken’ by Bowlingual include the old favourites such as "I’m hungry", "I’m happy" and "Play with me."

However, the device also trots out less favourable remarks such as "Today was so boring", "You never take me for a walk", "I’m fed up" and "Please, please, if you don’t listen to me, I’ll sulk."

The device consists of a two-inch microphone attached to the collar, which transmits sounds to a palm-sized console held by the owner. The sounds transmitted are broken down into six basic emotions: frustration, menace, joy, sorrow, hunger and desire.

The noise is then checked against a database of 200 pre-programmed defining words and 200 phrases and the result is then flashed up on the console screen.

The various responses are then logged into a ‘diary, which relays all the emotional data collected over one day, which is then available for the owner to read, with phrases such as "I had a great time playing with the tennis ball," or "Today was so boring, nothing happened." The diary operates alongside a ‘happiness gauge’, which records emotional satisfaction – or dissatisfaction – on a scale of one to five stars.

Takara, the manufacturer, says its scientists have researched 2,000 different canine phrases over three years of studying 100 dogs from 14 breeds.

Thus far, the device is only available in Japan, but an English version is expected to be launched soon. A similar gadget for cats has also been planned.

Many animal psychologists are sceptical about the device’s ability to correctly pick up on the nuances of canine behaviour.

Meanwhile, the developers were given an IgNobel award – a spoof of the Nobel prizes – by an American scientific journal – for research that ‘could not or should not be repeated.’

Goodness knows what any sensible dog would really say to that!