Listen, no one bats an eye when you talk to your baby in a baby voice. But people will give you some weird looks if you do the same to your dog. I am guilty of doing that high-pitched cooing talk to my dogs, and I have no shame. Honestly, I feel weird talking to them in a normal voice, because they’re dogs? And the sing-song voice makes them tilt their heads and that makes my heart happy. Now, we have science on our side when it comes to talking to your dog in a baby voice. Next time someone gives you grief for it, just point them to this study and tell them to stuff it. In your regular voice, of course.
For all I know, talking to your dog in a baby voice is actually really annoying to them. Like if they could talk, they would all sound like the dogs from Up. No baby voices there!
Researchers in the study wanted to find out of the voice which we use to talk to our dogs really mattered. Do dogs understand the baby talk better, like babies do? Or are we all just making fools of ourselves? The new study suggests that the high-pitched baby voice we use with our dogs is beneficial. It improves the dog’s attention, and even better, it can help humans socially bond with their dogs. Lead author Alex Benjamin told HuffPost, “Obviously we know that dogs can’t learn to talk, so we wanted to know whether dog-speak also has a function for dogs, or whether it is simply something we tend to use with our pets in a culture where we think of dogs as part of the family, like fur-babies.”
The researchers performed a series of speech tests on 69 adult dogs. The dogs would listen to one person speaking in a high-pitched voice, saying things like “You’re a good dog”, and “Shall we go for a walk?” Another person spoke like an adult (boring) in a regular adult voice (boo) and said normal adult things (snore).
The dog’s attention levels were monitored during the speeches, then the dogs were prompted to choose the person they wanted to play with. Then, the speakers were switched. The baby-talk voice talked about boring, non-dog related things, and the regular adult voice spoke to the dog using the same phrases.
Researchers determined that dogs were more likely to pay attention to and engage with the baby voice speaking dog stuffs. In other words, they don’t really care if you speak to them in a sing-song voice, if you’re talking about taxes or whatever. Which would be weird.
Benjamin says, “I was a little surprised that in the second experiment, neither content, nor prosody ― which
intonation of the voice ― was driving the dogs’ preference. I think it is really interesting that our dogs are able to use both acoustic and content information to determine what speech might be meant for them.”
Doggos are the best. They’re loyal, loving, and smart. So if talking to your dog in a baby voice is what floats their boat (and yours!). DO IT. It’s the very least we can do to repay them for how much joy they bring to our lives.
(Image: iStock / tanyaKot)