Forget the canine naysayers: You’re not just a crazy dog mom or dog dad, after all! As it turns out, our pup companions of all ages really may respond better to us when we talk to them with that special doggie-woggie, puppy-wuppy baby voice.
According to a recent study out of York, U.K., and published in May in Animal Cognition, dogs pay better attention to humans when they use a “baby voice” tone in their speech towards them. Not only that, our fur babies also tend to connect with us more deeply from an emotional standpoint when we use baby-talk.
The British researchers evaluated human relationships with adult dogs, in effect measuring whether the pets preferred our baby voice, scientifically known as “dog-directed speech” (DDS), or if the pups responded equally to “adult-directed speech” (ADS), which is just the way you speak to another human adult. The results of the study appear to show that dogs are notably more responsive to baby-talk (DDS) vs. our regular voices (ADS).
Additionally, and perhaps not too surprisingly, dogs were also found to be more responsive when people included dog-related content in their speech, such as the words “dog” and “walk” as opposed to adult-related content like “Sorry dude, I have to run some errands without you.”
Alex Benjamin, a PhD student from the University of York told the Huffington Post U.K., “We found that adult dogs were more likely to want to interact and spend time with the speaker that used dog-directed speech with dog-related content, than they did those that used adult-directed speech with no dog-related content … When we mixed-up the two types of speech and content, the dogs showed no preference for one speaker over the other. This suggests that adult dogs need to hear dog-relevant words spoken in a high-pitched emotional voice in order to find it relevant.”
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So go ahead, coo over your little baby pupster to your heart’s content, just be sure to also mix in a few words from our mutually understood human-doggo vocabulary to capture their attention at its fullest. Researchers hope these findings will be useful for pet parents, as well as veterinarians, rescue workers and other people who regularly interact with dogs.
No word yet on whether cats are similarly affected by baby voices and cat-related content, but if Taylor Swift has anything to say on the matter, you’ll hear it here first.