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‘Dog-speak’ can boost bonding with pets

“Dog-speak” has the potential to improve attention and may help humans to socially bond with their pets.

IANS | London |

If you want to develop a good bonding with your pooches, try “dog-speak”. The way you speak to your canine friends may be important in building a relationship, similar to the way that ‘baby-talk’ is to bonding between a baby and an adult, researchers suggest.

“Dog-speak” has the potential to improve attention and may help humans to socially bond with their pets, the study showed.

“A special speech register, known as infant-directed speech, is thought to aid language acquisition and improve the way a human baby bonds with an adult,” said Katie Slocombe, Professor at the University of York in Britain.

“This form of speech is known to share some similarities with the way in which humans talk to their pet dogs, known as dog-directed speech,” Slocombe added.


Previous studies on communicating with dogs had suggested that talking in a high-pitch voice with exaggerated emotion, just as adults do with babies, improved engagement with puppies but made little difference with adult dogs.

“This high-pitched rhythmic speech is common in human interactions with dogs in western cultures, but there isn’t a great deal known about whether it benefits a dog in the same way that it does a baby,” Slocombe said.

For the study, published in the journal Animal Cognition, the team carried out a series of speech tests with adult dogs, where they were given the chance to listen to one person using dog-directed speech containing phrases such as ‘you’re a good dog’, and ‘shall we go for a walk?’, and then another person using adult-directed speech with no dog-related content, such as ‘I went to the cinema last night’.

Attention during the speech was measured, and following the speech, the dogs were allowed to choose which speaker they wanted to physically interact with.

The results showed that adult dogs were more likely to want to interact and spend time with the speaker that used dog-directed speech with dog-related content, than they did those that used adult-directed speech with no dog-related content.