Who’s a Good Dog? The Science Behind Canine Baby Talk
February 1, 2019
Are you a dog owner that uses baby talk with your pup? The good news is that you’re not alone, and even better news is that there’s a scientific reason for doing it!
Speaking in an exaggerated manner, what we know as ‘baby talk’, is believed to help infants learn how to speak. Baby talk has a different pitch from regular adult speech, words are shorter and simpler and easier to learn as a result.
Some researchers also believe that baby talk plays an important role in building and enhancing the emotional bonds between parents and their babies.
But we’re not teaching our dogs to speak so why do we often use baby talk to speak to them and does it make a difference?
A lot of dog owners (ourselves included) speak to our dogs as if they’re babies. But this isn’t driven by impulse, research studies have shown that baby talk and pet talk are a little different. So the reason we use the doggie version of baby talk is because we’re attuned to speak to the level of the animal or person we’re talking to, perhaps not even realizing why we do it.
So how is dog talk different to baby talk?
There are some important differences between baby talk and the canine version. The biggest of these is that baby talk contains a lot more sentences with specific information, to teach children about language and their environment.
When speaking to our dogs we use four words per sentence while human adult sentences contain around 11 words. The reason for this is we use commands and ask a lot more questions of our dogs than if we’re speaking to a human. We don’t expect the dog to answer or learn something from speaking to them.
Interesting baby talk dog facts:
People ask twice as many questions to dogs than other humans, even though they don't expect the dog to answer. 90% of pet-talk is spoken mostly in the present tense because people talk to dogs about what is happening now - twice as much as they do with humans. We’re 20 times more likely to repeat ourselves to dogs than we do to humans.
If you’re a dog owner who doesn’t use baby talk, there’s no need to be concerned or feel you need to start! Your dog loves you whether you use baby talk or not. If you do use baby talk, don’t be ashamed, there’s a scientific reason behind your use of baby talk.