Only pet owners know how real and strong the love is between you and your dog, and nowadays, people treat their dogs like real members of the family—and they are! In addition to cuddling and playing, we give our pups a lot of attention, which very often includes talking to dogs like they’re children. That being said, many pet parents might be unsure if they should use baby voices with dogs. Is it a good or bad thing?
Parade asked Dr. Julie Buzby, South Carolina-based veterinarian, and even she is guilty of baby-talking.
“I have to confess that I sometimes find myself cooing to my dogs in baby talk, especially since we just adopted an 8-pound chihuahua mix.” Dr. Buzby says. “Most of the time, I don’t even realize I’m doing it.”
But do dogs like baby talk? Let’s get into it.
What is it called when you use baby voices with dogs?
“Pet-directed speech (PDS), also known as companion animal-directed speech (CADS) is a manner of speaking that people sometimes use to communicate with their pets,” Dr. Buzby explains. “It’s akin to baby talk—the speech patterns associated with talking to babies.”
In fact, when you talk to a baby this way, it’s called infant-directed speech (IDS). In both scenarios, this typically includes a higher pitch and for dogs, possibly an even higher volume.
“Surprisingly, science seems to support the value of this higher-pitched speech when communicating with our pets and even our horses,” Dr. Buzby explains.
Should you use baby talk with dogs?
Science backs up that yes, dogs actually enjoy baby talk and are more likely to respond to it.
“We don’t fully understand why dogs seem to be more sensitive to this way of speaking,” Dr. Buzby says. “Maybe it’s because dogs communicate amongst themselves with high-pitched barks and yips. These sounds might be prioritized by dogs’ sensitive ears and processed faster in the brain.”
So even though the reasons why pets respond so well to pet-directed speech remain unclear, the research is certainly in favor of humans using baby voices with dogs.
“Studies have shown that dogs are sensitive to both the pitch and timbre of the human voice and respond more favorably to PDS than standard adult speech patterns,” Dr. Buzby says.
However, experts aren’t sure if this is a behavior that dogs have learned, or if they truly prefer it. Still, Dr. Buzby says it’s a great way to further communicate with your dog, and if it gets your dog to listen to you, then go for it.
After all, Dr. Buzby adds, “It is believed that baby talk can improve how well your dog listens to you, and it might even improve the bond that you have with your dog.”
Next up, this video of a golden retriever reading the TV subtitles is hilarious.