“Who’s a good boy?” If you’ve ever said a phrase like that to your dog, pat yourself on the back. Give yourself extra bonus points if you used a high-pitched, squeaky voice while doing so. According to a March 2018 study, you’ve already taken an important step in building a relationship with your precious pet.
The new research, published in Animal Cognition, found that the way we speak to our doggos is so important when it comes to bonding that it’s similar to the way “baby talk” is vital for a connection between human parents and their infants. This study involved a series of adorable experiments between dogs and humans, where the pups listened to one person using “dog-directed” speech, with phrases such as “You’re a good dog,” and “Shall we go for a walk?” and then another person using “adult-directed” speech with no dog-related words, such as “I went to the cinema last night.”
Researchers measured the dogs’ attention during each phrase, and then allowed the canines to pick which speaker they wanted to continue spending time with afterward. Doggy enthusiasts, you can probably guess exactly how that test turned out!
“We found that adult dogs were more likely to want to interact and spend time with the speaker that used dog-directed speech with dog-related content, than they did those that used adult-directed speech with no dog-related content,” said researcher Alex Benjamin, a PhD student in a release. “When we mixed-up the two types of speech and content, the dogs showed no preference for one speaker over the other. 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, there you have it! If you have the irresistible urge to make your voice squeaky as you tell your dog just how wonderful he or she is, don’t hold back! And if anyone rolls their eyes, just smile and know you’re doing something very good for a very good dog.
Next, learn why dogs are so good for your health in the video below: