Puppies Not Adult Dogs Respond to Infant-like Talk!
12 January, 2017
puppy like talk

We love to talk to our dogs in fun, upbeat tones and sometimes make up words that don’t make sense.  And, of course, we think our dogs understand us!  But, scientists have now shown that puppies find this kind of speech exciting and fun, where older dogs are indifferent.  The study further showed that since young dogs respond to this kind of talking, it may help them learn words.

A team of researchers found that puppies are more responsive to “dog-talk”

A small team of researchers from the U.S., the U.K. and France has found that puppies are more reactive to dog-directed speech than are adult dogs.  Researchers have found that puppies reacted to “dog-directed speech,” which is a speaking pattern similar to “infant-directed speech,” according to a paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The research wanted to see how dogs responded to our “dog talk”

We all have heard of or even use dog-directed speech which is similar to infant or “baby talk” when   voices become higher, words come out slower and have a sing-song tone. Some of the phrases are familiar as well, such as “Are you a good boy?”   The researchers looked into the use of dog talk to see how and if pooches responded.

A group of women read a script and were recorded using typical dog talk

The experiments consisted of asking 30 female human volunteers to look at pictures of dogs while reading a script consisting of typical dog-directed speech phrases into a microphone to make recordings. The recordings were then played to 10 puppies and 10 adult dogs at an animal shelter as the researchers watched and recorded their reactions.

Puppies responded to the recordings and got excited and the adult dogs were indifferent

The researchers report that the volunteers tended to raise their voices in ways similar to people speaking to human infants regardless of the age of the dog they were looking at. They also report that at the animal shelter, the puppies responded very clearly to the voices coming from the speakers, acting as if they wanted to play. The adult dogs, on the other hand, after a quick investigation, ignored the recordings altogether.

The adult dogs didn’t respond to the recordings but it could be just a function of age

The researchers were not able to explain why the humans spoke in dog-directed speech or why the puppies responded to it while the adult dogs did not, but think that humans respond to puppies in much the same way they respond to babies.  And babies usually respond more to baby-directed speech. As for why the older dogs were not interested, it could just be a function of age and knowing better.  The dogs probably knew there wasn’t a human there so they chose to ignore what was being said.

Maybe the take-away is if you speak baby talk to teenagers, you will probably be ignored just as the adult dogs didn’t respond to puppy talk!

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