Dogs Prefer You Talk to Them in ‘Dog Talk’

By Seriously Science | March 13, 2018 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/Susan E Adams

Photo: flickr/Susan E Adams

Do you talk to your dog differently than you would to a person? Have you ever wondered why? Maybe it’s because he or she seem to prefer that kind of “dog baby talk”. These researchers found that dogs prefer this “dog-directed speech” – both because of its sound and also because of the “dog-relevant content words.” See, you’re such a good boy. Such a good boy! Does Fido want a bone? Does he? Does he?!?

‘Who’s a good boy?!’ Dogs prefer naturalistic dog-directed speech

“Infant-directed speech (IDS) is a special speech register thought to aid language acquisition and improve affiliation in human infants. Although IDS shares some of its properties with dog-directed speech (DDS), it is unclear whether the production of DDS is functional, or simply an overgeneralisation of IDS within Western cultures. One recent study found that, while puppies attended more to a script read with DDS compared with adult-directed speech (ADS), adult dogs displayed no preference. In contrast, using naturalistic speech and a more ecologically valid set-up, we found that adult dogs attended to and showed more affiliative behaviour towards a speaker of DDS than of ADS.

To explore whether this preference for DDS was modulated by the dog-specific words typically used in DDS, the acoustic features (prosody) of DDS or a combination of the two, we conducted a second experiment. Here the stimuli from experiment 1 were produced with reversed prosody, meaning the prosody and content of ADS and DDS were mismatched. The results revealed no significant effect of speech type, or content, suggesting that it is maybe the combination of the acoustic properties and the dog-related content of DDS that modulates the preference shown for naturalistic DDS. Overall, the results of this study suggest that naturalistic DDS, comprising of both dog-directed prosody and dog-relevant content words, improves dogs’ attention and may strengthen the affiliative bond between humans and their pets.”

Related content:
Yes, dogs really can smell fear (and happiness).
Study shows dogs know how to lie.
Flashback Friday: Shut up and pet me! Dogs prefer petting to vocal praise.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: animals
  • Uncle Al

    It works for Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Maxine Waters, John Lewis, Jimmy Carter, and even Jackie Mason.

    • Jason Gardner

      You’re subhuman pond scum, Al. You always have been. You always will be.

      • Uncle Al

        Don’t you remember Ebonics?

        • Matthew Stein

          Strive for growth. Try not being racist. You’ll get more respect, because you’ll actually be worth of it.

      • patrick k


    • Ken Hill

      well only carnivorous vulgar, inarticulate, simplified for low IQ consumption , red meat vocalizations inspire trump voters. Each to his own kind.

      • Uncle Al

        Fine. Ignore Jackie Mason. Leave Krusty the Clown fatherless. If you ever had a dog, you would know there is only one god in the house – you or the dog. Pandering to the dog is worshiping god. God asserts dominion. So with my list. This post is a disaster for raising a dog.

        Physical reality is my ally, and a powerful ally it is.

        • slavitch

          You’re divorced, right?

          • Mike Richardson

            He’s divorced from reality, at the very least. And an acrimonious divorce it was.

  • WarningU2

    Wow. The internet never ceases to amaze me. How this story about dog speak became some sort of sick racial discussion – is amazing and frightening. Well done Uncle Al. Well done in the worst possible way.


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