Dog lovers, rejoice! New research is saying that it’s OK – and even beneficial – to talk dog talk to your pup!
Dog talk, similar to baby talk, is when humans use a higher-pitched voice to communicate with their dog.
“A special speech register, known as infant-directed speech, is thought to aid language acquisition and improve the way a human baby bonds with an adult,” said researcher Katie Slocombe from the University of York in England. “This form of speech is known to share some similarities with the way in which humans talk to their pet dogs, known as dog-directed speech.”
Researchers found that dog talk not only increases attention, but also grows the bond between human and canine. Previous studies have indicated that this may only be true for puppies, but the new study used adult dogs.
Researchers tested several scenarios with dogs and humans: humans using dog talk with a dog theme like “you’re a good dog,” humans using non-dog talk with non-dog themes like “I went to the cinema last night,” humans using dog talk with non-dog themes, and finally, humans using non-dog talk with dog themes.
Attention during the speech was measured, and following the speech, the dogs were allowed to choose which speaker they wanted to physically interact with. They found that the dogs wanted to interact most with the humans who used dog talk with dog themes.
“When we mixed-up the two types of speech and content, the dogs showed no preference for one speaker over the other,” said researcher Alex Benjamin. “This suggests that adult dogs need to hear dog-relevant words spoken in a high-pitched emotional voice in order to find it relevant.”
So keep on speaking in dog talk to build that bond with your pup! If anyone looks at you weird, tell them it’s for science.