So you know that super dramatic, baby voice you use to coo at your dog behind closed doors? It may actually have a purpose after all — woohoo!
Think about how some (dare we say most) people's voices jump a few octaves when they see a cute pooch on the street, want a four-legged BFF to try a new trick for a treat, or find that special scratch spot that turns into a full-on back rub/face-licking love fest?
Well, researchers at the University of York studied both normal adult voices and high-pitched voices and found that dogs favored the speaker who used a high pitch. They then wanted to try to decipher whether or not this “dog-directed speech” — the name for the way of talking that involves a high-pitched voice with exaggerated emotion — was actually useful to the dogs or if we are just nutballs who talk to our dogs in baby talk like they are small children.
Phrases like “you’re a good dog!” and “shall we go for a walk?” were used in the voice you can all imagine in your heads against a normal voice speaking non-dog-related phrases like “I went to the cinema last night.” They then mixed up voice pitches with phrases to see if dog-related words in a normal tone, and high-pitched voices with non-dog-related phrases equally caught the dog’s attention.
As you can probably guess, the dogs loved the dog-directed speech and dog-related content most of all which led to the conclusion that "adult dogs need to hear dog-relevant words spoken in a high-pitched emotional voice in order to find it relevant."
That means, not only may we soon be able to understand what our pet’s barks mean, our crazy baby voices are actually good for our dogs ... AND what they want?! The Year of the Dog is literally shaping up to be the year of the dog after all!
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