It has been proven that dogs really do like and respond well to baby talk! According to many studies, speaking to your dog in a high-pitched tone improves your dog’s attention span as well as their bond to you. There are also studies that show that it is good for you, too!

We’ve all done it! You come home from work and immediately begin petting and talking to your dog. But, you probably don’t talk to your pooch in the same tone of voice you use when you’re speaking to your boss or even your best friend. You, like most people with pets, most likely speak to your dog with a voice that is higher pitched than how you normally speak. That is, you probably use baby talk to speak to your dog. Don’t worry, you’re not alone!

Humans naturally default to talking in baby talk to our dogs but, the question is, do dogs really respond to baby talk? Does speaking to our dogs in more high-pitched tones have any true benefits? What drives humans to speak to dogs in this way? Is it because they’re so cute when they tilt their heads? Or, is it because we have a natural instinct driving us to speak to our dogs in high-pitched voices?

Why Do We Talk to Dogs in High-Pitched Voices

There are a few theories floating around as to why humans feel the need to baby talk to their dogs. Some believe we use baby talk with dogs simply because they are cute when they tilt their heads and stare at us with their big brown eyes when hearing high-pitched voices. Kristen Warfield from The Dodo suggests that dogs are more interested in high-pitched noises simply because these tones are less boring than when people speak in normal voices. Other professionals seem to think the reason we speak this way to dogs is more science-based and evolutionary.

Baby Talking to Dogs is Evolutionary

Humans use infant-directed speech (IDS) as a way to bond with babies and to also begin the process of teaching them speech. How many mothers and fathers do you know that speak to their infants in a flat normal-toned voice? Probably not many. That’s because humans are conditioned to bond and teach their infants through higher-pitched voices. This evolutionary process releases oxytocin, which gives humans good feelings when they are experiencing the act of baby talk.

It is suggested that we speak to our dogs in this high-pitched manner as an attempt to further bond with our furry children. It is said in an article titled “Why Do We Use the Same Voice to Talk to Babies and Dogs?” that, since humans often consider puppies and dogs their “babies”, we tend to speak to them in a similar fashion as we would speak to real infants.

Baby Talking Because They’re Cute

Have you ever seen a dog tilt its head curiously and perk its ears up in response to your voice or another human’s voice? It’s adorable! One theory about why humans use high-pitched and dog-directed speech when speaking to canines is simply because we enjoy their reaction to our voices. Our hearts are warmed by that cute head tilt and their physical responses when they hear our high-pitched voice.

Dogs Find Baby High-Pitched Voices Less Boring

Okay, this theory actually may have some credibility behind it. Think about it. If you ask a dog “would you like to go on a walk?” in a normal voice, how do you picture them reacting? They may just stare at you or not even notice you are speaking directly to them. However, if you ask a dog “want to go on walkies?” in a high-pitched voice you  will probably get a completely different reaction! This is because the second option is using dog-directed speech that is more attention-grabbing than our normal voices.

Why It is Important to Talk to Our Dogs in High-Pitched Voices is:

  • Builds a Bond
  • Keeps Their Attention
  • Furthers Your Enjoyment

Just like there are many theories explaining why we baby-talk to our dogs, there are quite a few opinions out there about why baby-talk is important in human and canine relationships. Studies show that using a high-pitched voice when speaking to our dogs increases oxytocin within our brains, which gives us good and loving feelings.
In addition, it is suggested that using baby talk helps us better bond with our canine friends. Want to keep your dog’s attention for longer? One study found that baby talk is effective in increasing canine attention-span.

Builds a Bond

It has been found that speaking to your dog in a high-pitched voice is a sure way to build a stronger bond with your furry friend. Using dog-directed speech will make your pet feel more comfortable around you as they become confident that they are effectively communicating and understanding you. No, dog’s aren’t able to verbalize their thoughts with us (yes), but using a tone and pitch that helps them understand is a good first step to take in order to communicate with your dog.

Keeps Their Attention

In a New York Post article, Mike Wehner writes about a study that was conducted “to test whether or not dog-directed speech had any effect on attention”. In this study, “researchers borrowed 37 pet canines from volunteers and ran a series of tests.” This study found that dogs responded much better to humans using a high-pitched tone. Researchers also discovered that this type of speech improved canine attention-span. That is, baby talk helped dogs stay focused for longer amounts of time!

Furthers Your Enjoyment

All scientific facts aside, there is no doubt that baby talking to your pet adds positivity to the experience of owning a dog! There’s nothing more enjoyable than coming home to your cute fur baby and launching into oxytocin-inducing baby talk. It is widely known that dogs are ‘man’s best friend’ and, if they see you happy, that is sure to have a residual effect and they will also be happy!

 

Sources:

https://www.thedodo.com/close-to-home/using-baby-talk-with-dog-strengthens-relationship

https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/92912/why-do-we-use-same-voice-talk-babies-and-dogs#:~:text=This%20may%20be%20because%20adult,be%20somehow%20functionally%20useful%2C%20but

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2018/05/dogs-animals-pets-baby-talk/

https://www.kingwood.com/msg/dog-thread.php?p=1913792

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-04671-z#:~:text=Humans%20speak%20to%20dogs%20using,when%20talking%20to%20young%20infants.&text=The%20total%20gaze%20duration%20of,as%20a%20proxy%20of%20attention.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10071-018-1172-4?wt_mc=Internal.Event.1.SEM.ArticleAuthorOnlineFirst

https://nypost.com/2018/06/04/science-says-you-should-talk-to-your-dog-in-a-baby-voice/