Do your pets really care how you talk to them?

Good morning sunshine! Are you ready to rise and shine? Time to get up. Are you ready? You are, are you? Yes, you’re such a good girl! Yes you are!

Have you ever been caught talking to your dog when someone comes home and looks at you curiously? As though they’re wondering who you could possibly be talking to since you’re the only human in the house. If you’re like most pet owners you talk to your pets often and differently than the way you talk to your friends and family. With a higher pitch voice, repeating yourself and asking questions more than once, without expecting a reply. It’s also common for people to talk to babies the same way. But the question is, do our pets care?

I recently read an article by Stanley Coren, also the author of the “The Intelligence of Dogs” on this subject. And according to some researchers, they do. In a study, they recorded women talking to photos of dogs. Using the language typically reserved for our pets and babies. Then they played these recordings back to the dogs on a speaker. The researchers watched to see how the dogs reacted. Watching for things like did the dogs approach the speaker, or responded by barking or whining and so on. 

The results showed that the puppies reacted the most. And the older the dogs were, the less they responded to these recorded voices. So indeed, it does matter. Women talk this way to their pets more so than men. In addition, if you show a woman a photo of a puppy and record her talking to it, and then hand the same woman a photo of a baby, she will speak the same way. 

As for why older dogs don’t respond as well to the high pitched voices, this may be because the voices came from people they did not know nor had ever met. Thus, they are more selective to who they react to. 

So if you’re like me you talk to your dogs often, even if (and especially!) if no one else is in the house. Now, you know that this does work to get your pets attention and your pets do like it. So the next time someone tells you it’s silly talking to animals, you can share with them why it’s not.