One habit many dog owners are guilty of is using that high-pitched baby voice – also known as “baby talk” – when talking to their pup. It’s almost as if we can’t help it. But what do dogs think about the whole baby talk thing? Do they like it? Or more importantly, do they respond to it?
We hate to break it to you but no, dogs don’t actually like your baby talk.
Nicholas Mathevon, an acoustic communication specialist at a French University, decided to conduct a study on the “infant-directed speech” we use towards dogs.
Mathevon’s study concentrated on 40 different dogs and their reaction to “baby talk” and normal speech. People recorded their voices and the recordings were played to the pups over speakers. There was no human-dog interaction as that could alter the study and influence the findings.
Though the study focused mainly on a dog’s reaction to speech, Mathevon noticed that it also said a lot about human behavior.
“It underlines that we try to adapt the way we speak to our listener – or to what we think our listener is able to understand,” Mathevon said.
Mathevon noted that with human babies, we use “infant-directed-speech” to try and engage with the baby and promote language learning. Pet-directed speech, then, is most likely used as a way to engage with a non-speaking listener (a dog).
Even though dogs don’t necessarily like baby talk, there’s no reason to stop – especially if it makes you happy. Besides, we don’t think we can ever stop telling our pup how much we love them – baby voice and all.
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