Speaking to your dog in a specific manner can increase their focus on you and enhances your bond with your dog.
So many of us talk to our dogs like they are our babies. You know what we mean, it’s that high-pitched voice you use when you say things like, “You wanna go for a walk, boy? Do you need to go poopy? Is it poopy time?”
We sound ridiculous, but have you seen those puppy eyes? Just like parents speaking baby-talk with their young children helps build a bond between them, the same applies to dog-talk. Scientists from the University of York have discovered that the way we speak to our furry companions is a vital step in helping to build a relationship with them. Helping us to socially bond with our four-legged besties and also aids in improving their attention.
How cute-talking helps you bond with your dog
Experts involved in the study used various speech interaction experiments to discover these findings. Previous studies noted that talking in a high-pitched voice and exaggerating your emotion helped improve engagement with puppies, but not with adult dogs.
Because of these previous findings, the York researchers took this theory and sought to understand it more with new experiments. They wanted to find out why humans talk to dogs the same way they talk to babies and whether this way of speaking actually does something positive for the dog.
The researchers asked the following question:
“Does the type of communication (voice pitch and content) we use influence our relationships with our pets?”
And here’s what they found out:
The research team used real humans in the same room as the dog to allow for a natural and realistic setting. The researchers had the humans conduct 4 kinds of speech tests that varied the use of tone (high-pitched or regular) and the use of words (dog-friendly or not). These were the 4 combinations of the 2 factors:
- Dog-directed speech with dog-related words (“Who’s a good boy!”)
- Adult-directed speech with no dog-related words (“I went to the cinema last night.”)
- Dog-directed speech with non-dog-related words (tone and pitch)
- Adult-directed speech with dog-related words (tone and pitch)
The dog’s attention during the different forms of speech were measured, and after each person spoke to the dogs, the dogs were then allowed to choose who they wanted to interact physically with – basically, who they wanted to play with.
The humans speaking to the dogs were then told to mix dog-talk with adult-talk to allow for the researchers to understand whether the emotional tone of the words used had a role to play rather than the words themselves.
They found the following: Adult dogs wanted to play with the humans who used dog-talk with dog-related content compared to those who only used non-dog-related content and adult-talk.
And it gets more interesting:
When the research team mixed up the 2 types of speech and content, the dogs didn’t have a preference for one human speaker over the other. This means that dogs prefer to hear both dog-related words and dog-directed speech.
So – embrace those poopy, woopy baby-talk moments with your precious pooches because it might actually be improving your relationship with your four-legged bestie and even teach them things about communication and language use! Maybe even give them a few treats when doing so, it doesn’t hurt.
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Although being a pet parent sometimes comes with a few embarrassing habits like cute-talking your dog, there’s no greater joy in the world than seeing your fur baby’s tail start wagging when they hear the words “let’s go for a walk!”
Yours in Not-So-Average Pet Advice,
The Petinsurance.co.za Team
*Discounts tiered & excludes Accident Plan.