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Do you ever catch yourself talking to your dog in a high pitched ‘baby voice’? Well, you’re not alone and it actually can be beneficial for both you and your pet. Most people already communicate with their dogs in this language without even realizing it. As it turns out, your baby talk with your dog may serve a real purpose for both you and your pup.
Study Reveals How to Talk to a Happy Pet
The study in the journal Animal Cognition, looked at people’s relationships with their adult dogs, to try to determine whether the pups preferred ‘dog-directed speech’ (DDS) which is your ‘baby-talk’ or ‘adult-directed speech’ (ADS), which is speaking like you would to another human. The scientists gave dogs different phrases to listen to, such as ‘you’re such a good dog’ and ‘do you want to go for a walk?’ which were delivered by a person using dog-directed speech.
Then, a different person would communicate with the animal using non-dog related sentences, such as ‘I went to the movies last night,’ which was delivered in normal speech. The results of the study showed that the dogs were significantly more responsive when a person spoke to them using DDS rather than ADS. Basically, your pet loves your coddling voice!
In another study, researchers observed that the study participants spoke in a higher tone of voice when speaking to pictures of dogs than they did when speaking to pictures of other humans. We naturally use this dog directed speak tone when we talk to our pets. They also found that study participants’ tone of voice increased by an average of 21% when addressing puppies, 13% with senior dogs, and 11% with adult dogs.
Researchers measured who the dog was paying attention to while the speaker was talking, and who the dog wanted to interact with once the speaker had stopped talking. The research all pointed to the fact that dogs were more attentive to those who were using ‘baby talk’.
Bonding with Your Happy Pet
Previous studies confirmed that this research was only true for puppies but that is not the case with this set of new research. The speech interaction experiments between adult dogs and humans show the ‘baby talk’ improves dog attention and social bonding at any age.
Your dog, no matter how old, can benefit from your baby talk. In fact, you are strengthening your relationship when you do this. So keep talking to your happy pet however you feel to bond with them!
Benjamin, Alex, and Katie Slocombe. “‘Who’s a good boy?!’ Dogs prefer naturalistic dog-directed speech.” Animal cognition 21.3 (2018): 353-364.
Tobey Ben-Aderet, Mario Gallego-Abenza, David Reby, Nicolas Mathevon. “Dog-directed speech: why do we use it and do dogs pay attention to it?” Proc. R. Soc. B 2017 284 20162429; DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2016.2429. Published 11 January 2017.