Study: Dogs Respond to Baby Talk

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson
Who’s my little furry baby? You may be one of the pet parents who baby talk to your dog (Guilty!). Now, researchers are looking into dog-directed speech and if dogs respond to it.

While I would never even dream of employing baby-talk when I interact with my feline housemates, my boyfriend’s pooches are an entirely different matter. My cat crew barely listen to me at the best of times, but talk cute to the dogs and you have their undivided attention. Heads cocked, tails wagging… its like the only words they’re hearing are treat, treat, you’re just the best dog ever, and treat again!

Apparently, this enthusiastic reaction to animated cooing isn’t just my imagination. Dr. Nicolas Mathevon of Hunter College, City University of New York (CUNY), and the University of Lyon/Saint-Etienne led a research team that was able to demonstrate that pups are actually highly reactive to baby talk. Known as “dog-directed speech”, it seems that when interacting with dogs, people naturally revert to speaking more slowly and in a higher pitch; akin to how you would speak to a baby or child when you’re trying to ensure they understand what you’re saying.

Related: Dogs Understand us When We Speak in Positive and Negative Tones

Published in the Royal Society’s Proceedings B flagship biological research journal, the findings suggest humans may consciously or unconsciously want to make themselves better understood through this type of speech pattern and/or be trying to promote word learning in the dogs.

But while humans seem to employ this style of communication each time they interact with a pooch, it’s really just the younger pups that eat it up. The older dogs, well, not so impressed.

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

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