Common among all dog owners, purebred or not, is how we talk to our dogs.
It pays to have these dog/owner conversations.University of York (UK) researchers, Alex Benjamin and Katie Slocombe, set out to learn if “dog-speak” improves the relationship we have with our dogs. Slocombe explained the motivation behind the research: “A special speech register, known as infant-directed speech, is thought to aid language acquisition and improve the way a human baby bonds with an adult. This form of speech is known to share some similarities with the way in which humans talk to their pet dogs, known as dog-directed speech.”
Their findings, published in the journal, Animal Cognition, found that adult dogs need to hear dog-relevant words spoken in a high-pitched emotional voice in order to find it relevant. This backs up findings from the last twenty years showing that our dogs really do understand human communication in ways no other species can.
For grins, write down the 35 most common words you think you use when talking to your dog and then see how it compares to the research at this link. When you’re done reading the list, share with us the words you use that are not on the list (just as long as they’re not the words you use right after the dog throws up on your bed. Twice).
We confess that one word not on the list that we’ve used with one of our dogs is “icky.” There was, and is, nothing remotely icky about this retired show dog, but something about that word “lit him up,” especially if we said it a certain way. Go figure.