All pet owners do it–we all have a silly, baby voice that comes out when talking to our furry friends. However, this may actually have effects other than making you feel ridiculous in front of your friends when they witness it–according to a recent study performed at the University of York.
Researchers Alex Benjamin and Katie Slocombe have recently conducted a study that analyzed whether speaking to your dogs has any effect on the owner-pet bond, with some interesting results. Inspiration for this study came from looking at the way that high-pitch speech to infants strengthens social bonds, which raised the question whether or not this type of speech has the same effects on dogs.
The study was conducted by comparing the attention span of the trial dogs, as well as examining their human preference, after they were spoken to in different ways. After being spoken to in “dog speech,” the high-pitched baby-like voice, versus regular “adult speech,” the dogs were watched to observe their interest in the speaker, as well as which speaker they preferred. The results of the first experiment showed that the dogs strongly preferred the users who spoke to them in higher pitches, although the researchers conducted a second phase of the study to solidify their results.
The researchers then repeated the first stage of the experiment, but had the speakers using their “adult” voice mention key phrases that the dogs were interested in, such as “treat” or “bone,” in order to test the level of preference a higher pitch speaker would hold. The results were interesting, as in this case, the dogs did not show preference towards either speaker. Benjamin summed up the results, saying “We found 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.”
The implications of this study for dog owners suggests that when speaking to your dog, a higher-pitched, or “baby” voice, may help strengthen the bond between you and your pet. Especially when using words your dog knows and understands, you may find that your furry friend is more attentive, and more affectionate.
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