Why do we use baby talk with dogs? - study

"Whoooose a wuddly doggy!" is what you're all thinking right now.
Cherie Palmer

"Whoooose a wuddly doggy!" is what you're all thinking right now.

If you've ever succumbed to the doe-eyed charms of a cuddly canine, chances are you've used your baby voice and maybe even walked away feeling slightly embarrassed. Well, it turns out this behaviour is totally normal and science can back it up. 

In a study released by The Universite Jean Monnet in France, Dr Nicolas Mathevon explored our verbal relationship with man's best friend and poses many fascinating reasons as to why "dog directed speech" parallels our slow and high pitched "infant directed speech".  

The experiment recorded adults speaking in front of images of various dogs - from puppies to old yellers. With the exception of using a slightly more elevated pitch when talking to puppies, the participants didn't adjust their speech in relation to the age of the dogs. So, you can rest assured you're not the only one doing it. 

In a follow-up assessment, dogs were played both "dog directed speech" and "human directed speech" in both English and French. It revealed puppies are highly responsive to the former pattern.

So, why do we do this? 

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The puppies' reactions were strongly influenced by "dog directed speech" which, more importantly, shaped their behaviour, researchers said. 

In addition, our historically close relationship with our poochy pals might be a major driving a factor, with the essay stating that "more than 80 per cent of pet owners' consider themselves to be 'pet-parents'". 

The physical facial structure of both babies and puppies may also appeal to our innate "care taking" behaviour, they wrote. 

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This theory is further developed through the revelation that that "women show similar brain activation patterns when presented with the picture of their dog and their own children".  

Researchers questioned why we persist on speaking to grown dogs the same way do pups, despite physiological changes, suggesting that  "this speech pattern may mainly be a spontaneous attempt to facilitate interactions with non-verbal listeners". 

The study was supported by the Hunter College, City University of New York and the University of Lyon/Saint-Etienne

 - Stuff


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