We all have that moment of weakness when we see someone or something adorable and start talking like we are children again. Strange, high-pitched, and unintelligible sounds that we fondly like to call ‘baby-talk.’ On most occasions, we are guilty of doing this with our pets too. So why do we baby talk to animals? And do dogs like baby talk, or do they feel uncomfortable with these sudden and odd displays of affection? Let us explore this phenomenon of dog-human interaction to find out more!
Do Dogs Like Baby Talk?
When humans are talking to their babies, they use a combination of shrill voices and sounds that help make a baby laugh. Babies often find these excited and affectionate sounds endearing.
Many pet parents often refer to their pet dogs as their fur babies. Some prefer having their dog to cuddle and play with rather than having a human baby.
A mini parenting lesson by UNICEF shows that this kind of speech known as ‘baby talk’ can work as a wonderful way of bonding with children. So then the question is: should you baby talk to your dog too?
When we are playing with our dogs, putting them to sleep, or asking them to perform a task – their love shines through in their eyes, just like a baby’s. They snuggle up to us, run around, and try to crawl into our laps. These are the times when it is almost impossible to be smitten by them.
In cognitive sciences, the concept of Dog-Directed Speech (DDS) shows that dogs prefer a combination of “doggie speak” and a high-pitched voice (termed naturalistic DDS).
The test of two different types of speeches showed that dogs react more positively to a more high-pitched, baby-like voice from people when combined with phrases that refer to them.
For example, when you pet your dog, saying, “Who’s a good boy/girl?” with a soft, high-pitched baby-like voice, they react more positively to it. Dogs are very sensitive to body language and voice changes; hence they will react differently to how you behave with them.
Why do dogs like baby talk so much? The study offers three possible explanations: it could be because they have an innate preference for this borne out of evolution, or perhaps it is the result of a domestication process that has made them more aware and responsive to this kind of talk. Lastly, it could simply be because early learning in puppies happens in high-pitched sounds, so they are more responsive to that kind of sound.
Dog Talk vs. Baby Talk
Cognitive and psychological studies for canines show that there are certain acoustic differences between the two kinds of speech that can help in the communication of dogs and humans.
Dog-directed speech is “dog-talk,” and the affectionate, high-pitched voice people use with babies is “baby talk.” There’s a big difference between dog talk and baby talk; dogs respond to dog talk differently than baby talk.
Dog talk is characterized by shorter, simpler sentences and a slower speech rate, while baby talk is typically longer, more complex, and higher-pitched. This communication style difference reflects how dogs and babies process information differently.
Dogs prefer dog-talk because it is easier for them to understand. The shorter, simpler sentences are less likely to be confusing, and the slower speech rate gives them more time to process what you said. Baby talk, on the other hand, is often too complex and fast-paced for dogs to keep up with.
Humans instinctively treat dogs like babies because they are similarly helpless and dependent on us. Using a high-pitched voice with them may help to foster that feeling. This is why we talk to dogs in high-pitched voices.
But that’s entirely on us – why do dogs like high-pitched voices? We know that dogs have better hearing than humans, so they connect with the higher pitch more.
Even though dogs prefer short dog talk with their pet parents, the baby-talk is great for them once in a while to make them feel loved. It is a more intimate form of communication and will make your dog happier when they hear it from you.
When to Use Baby Talk to Dogs?
Becoming a new pet parent can be a big change. When you bring a dog home, it is a lot of responsibility at first. However, knowing what you need to do for your dog is good. For example, you might ask us: when should your baby talk to your dog?
If you like to do it, use baby talk consistently. This will help your dog understand that this is how you communicate and make it more likely to respond to you. Be sure to use a high-pitched, happy voice when speaking to your dog in baby talk.
Using this kind of talking when they perform a good task or while training can help get the positive response you need from your dogs. Avoid using baby talk when angry or frustrated with your pet, as this can send mixed signals. If you baby talk on both good and bad actions, it can confuse your dog.
Overall, there is no specific time for you to baby-talk to your dog. But when you do it, your actions have to follow your voice. Be excited and try to make them feel you are sharing their moment of joy. This is one of the easiest ways to make them happy! It can help them understand that you like them to be a part of your life.
What Do Dogs Associate Baby Talking With?
Some experts say that using baby talk on dogs can create a stronger bond between the pet and owner. Baby talk may also make dogs more responsive to commands.
Dogs may associate baby talk with positive reinforcement, such as being praised or petted. They may also learn to respond to baby talk because it is associated with food or other rewards. Additionally, it is because they pick up on the high-pitched, sing-song quality they enjoy their pet parents baby-talking to them.
Dogs may also understand words used in baby talk, which can help with training. The latter, however, has not been proven.
It’s safe to say that dogs like baby talk. They understand their own version of baby talk and love it when you use it on them! So the next time you are with your pup, don’t forget to talk to them in a high-pitched voice and say, “who’s a good dog.”