(CNN)You might think your dog understands every word you say to him -- but chances are he isn't hanging on your every word, a new study has found.
In spite of their "human-like" auditory capabilities for interpreting speech sounds, dogs do not hear the subtle differences between words in the way that humans do, a team of researchers has found.
Words are made up of speech sounds, which, if changed, alter the entire meaning -- for example, "dog" can turn to "dig."
Researchers at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest measured the brain activity of family dogs using a technique called electroencephalography, which involved taping electrodes to the animals' heads.
The researchers played the dogs recorded instruction words they knew (such as "sit"), similar but nonsense words ("sut"), and then, very different nonsense words ("bep").
Experts found that dogs, who had not been specifically trained for the experiment, could quickly and clearly tell the difference between the known instruction words and the very different nonsense words.
"The brain activity is different when they listen to the instructions, which they know, and to the very different nonsense words, which means that dogs recognize these words," lead study author Lilla Magyari told CNN.