Have you found yourself talking to your dog in a silly, babyish way? Most dog owners adopt a different style of speak to communicate with their pets and it turns out that this is a good thing for their relationships.
Could baby talk help you to bond with your dog?
Research recently conducted by the University of York’s Department of Psychology suggests that adopting a baby-like tone when speaking to your dog aids the bonding process.
Owners often mirror the exaggerated high-pitched tone that they adopt with babies when talking to their pets. Until recently, not much was known about whether this rhythmical speech benefits dogs in the same way as it does young children.
The Latest research into communicating with canines
Researchers carried out speech tests with adult dogs to assess the impact of the style of speech used. The pooches were addressed by someone using the kind of tone that they would adopt when speaking to a baby and then by someone using an adult-orientated tone. The dogs could then choose which person to interact with.
Tone and Content Matters
The dogs’ level of attention when being spoken to was measured. The research team discovered that dogs not only paid more attention to baby-type talk, but were also motivated to spend more time with the person who had spoken to them in that way.
Dogs were more likely to choose to interact with people who used baby or doggy talk with dog-related content such as “time for a walk”. They were less interested in those who adopted adult speech and used no dog related content. When speakers mixed up the way they spoke, the dogs showed no preference between the people who approached them.
Pet Owners, Veterinary Staff and Rescue Workers
The only conclusion that can be drawn is that dogs prefer to be addressed in a high-pitched, emotional voice and with dog-relevant words. The way they bond with humans is influenced by the way people speak to animals. It could help veterinary professionals, rescue workers and others who work with dogs to gain a better understanding of how best to speak to them.
You may have asked yourself why you routinely adopt what might sound like a silly voice when you talk to your dogs. But it turns out that you are instinctively doing exactly the right thing. Dogs do not understand every word that you say but they can learn a reasonably extensive vocabulary and they are skilled at picking up on your tone.
If you wish to build a better bond with your dog, it’s time to get babyish!