If you’ve ever lived with a dog, or with someone who owns a dog, then you’ll be familiar with dog baby-talk: an uncontrollable and unexplained desire to talk in a slow-paced and high-pitched manner.
Their soft squishy paws, floppy ears, gently eyes, and big personalities melt our hearts to the point where we become oblivious to the world around us, and we forget that we’re trying to communicate with a teeny fluffy pup – who hasn’t the faintest of idea’s what we’re talking about.
Say what you like about the daftness of it, but baby-talking actually serves a rather big purpose in a dog’s life; particularly younger dogs and puppies.
New research published this week in the Proceedings of Royal Society B, show that communicating with our canine friends in baby-talk, also known as dog-directed speech, helps puppies to absorb words more easily than when you speak to them in a normal tone (similar to infants).
Older dogs, however, are less impressed (which is kind of expected. You wouldn’t talk to your aunt or grandmother in baby talk, would you?).
As part of the research, volunteers viewed images of puppies and dogs and recorded a piece of prewritten dialogue as though they were speaking directly to the dogs in the photos. Their voice was recorded twice: once in their normal-toned voice and once in baby-talk.
Researchers then played the recordings back to dogs and puppies and noticed an increase in attention and enthusiasm when the higher-pitched tone of voice was used.
So next time you cross paths with a puppy, don’t feel embarrassed for turning into an uncontrollable pile of mush. (“Hi! Hello cutie! Who’s a good boy? Come here! Good boy! Yes! Come here sweetie pie! What a good boy!”)