Dogs and Baby Voices

By: Nick Swafford

Admit it. At least once in your life you have talked to a pet like it was a newborn baby. If you haven’t, you should, because you are seriously missing out on how adorable their reactions are. We don’t often even think of what we are doing; we just intuitively talk to pets like they are  young children. With dogs, we never seem to stop using this baby voice, but, sadly, they grow out of this cute phase. In their youth, dogs respond very well to baby talk. A study in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences used a recording of high-pitched baby talk with older dogs and with puppies. It affected the puppies more, showing a significant change in demeanor, such as sudden excitement and willingness to play. With the older dogs, however, they showed little to no reaction.

This outcome could occur because they simply grow out of it as they mature. I doubt if anyone came up to you and started talking to you like you were a newborn, you wouldn’t find it too entertaining either. There isn’t enough research in this topic to be certain why puppies react to this better than older dogs, but there are a few theories on it:

  • Verbal cues and tones give the dog a general idea what the person intends to do, and puppies are better at picking up on this.
  • Dogs become more reserved as they age.
  • Puppies use body language as a guide to what the person wants.

While it might be unknown why puppies react better, it’s not unknown why we find ourselves talking to dogs like they’re babies. They’re adorable! We love babies because humans are fine-tuned to find large eyes, round faces, and chubby bodies cute. Coincidentally, that’s what humans have bred pets to look like. Do me a favor, and next time you see a dog or even a cat, use all the babyish speech you can muster and pet it for as long as possible.

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