Science says you should definitely baby-talk to your puppy, and that’s a relief
With people we love, like a partner or a child, we revert back to baby-talk. The same goes for our beloved pets, particularly puppies or dogs. A new study has found that puppies, but not dogs, enjoy baby-talk.
The Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences found that different recording of human voices affected dogs and their behavior differently. The study reveals “pet-directed speech,” which means baby-talk, higher pitch, and a softer tone. This kind of speech affects puppies in a positive light. The study suggests that talking in this way is beneficial for newborn dogs while training them.
It’s hard to refrain from speaking in a baby voice to pets, but the study found that older dogs did not react to this type of speech. As adults grow out of this sort of talking, so do dogs. But according to the study, we will still talk in a slow baby-talk to something who isn’t able to talk back, a.k.a, a dog.
“Come here, come here,” and “Good boy, who’s a good boy?” were two phrases utilized in the study by the research team. Our pitch increases 21% when talking to a puppy.
An anthropologist at the University of Arizona, Evan MacLean, told the Guardian, "As a result of selection for juvenile traits, dogs emit a log of signals that scream 'baby' to human, which can facilitate special kinds of interactions with dogs, normally reserved for children."
And what about our lovable little cats? While some more research may be needed, our cats simply never evolved to care about the sound of our voice. The Animal Cognition journal states that cats are unresponsive because of their lack of domestication in comparison to dogs. Instead, cats “effectively domesticated themselves.”
Our instincts kick in and we begin to talk goo-goo-ga-ga with just about anything — we just can’t help it!