Have you ever felt slightly foolish talking in dog tones to your furry friends? Have those dog tolerant people looked askew at you, thinking that you may be a few candles short of a full Christmas tree?

Research all the way back to 2008 and you will find this subject has been covered by scientists many times with similar results, but we found it quite amusing to find that speaking to a dog the language that is used is called  “doggerel” and resembles the language that is used in speaking to children known as “motherese”.

Don’t worry, we (dog lovers) all do it and now the scientists have proven we were right all along! Not only that dogs may well react better in stressful situations and if spoken to in “younger, and less adult tones” may well put them more at ease. How you talk to your best friend is important to them!

According to Nicholas Epley, a behavioral science professor at the University of Chicago who helped carry out another study, found that chatting with pets is one of the many ways humans try to anthropomorphize them, ie. a way we try to make our pets more like us. As we get older we tend to worry about this and stop it. DON’T!

The article published as: Dog-Speak’ important for social bonding between pet and owner by the University of York is based on a paper in “Animal Cognition”.

“Alex Benjamin, PhD student from the University’s Department of Psychology, said: “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.  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. We hope this research will be useful for pet owners interacting with their dogs, and also for veterinary professionals and rescue workers. 

The research paper, ‘’Who’s a good boy?!’ Dogs prefer naturalistic dog-directed speech, is published in the journal Animal Cognition.”

There are close to a billion dogs in the world but perhaps they all speak the same language, and all we need to do is ensure we are kind and careful. How you phrase and manage your tones could make all the difference.

Soldier Talking to Dog


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