Q: My wife uses baby talk to communicate with Sally, our Yorkshire terrier. It drives me crazy. How can I get her to speak normally to our dog?
A: I’m not sure Sally would appreciate the change. Recent studies show that dogs prefer what researchers call dog-directed speech to adult-directed speech. It’s similar to infant-directed speech in that both are characterized by high-pitched sounds that rise and fall and exaggerated facial expressions. Researchers tested dogs of various ages with combinations of dog- and adult-directed speech, dog-relevant words, and words that held no meaning to dogs and found that the dogs paid closest attention to dog-relevant words spoken in dog-directed speech patterns. Overall, researchers believe dog-directed speech strengthens the bond between canine and human.
This article is featured in the March/April 2020 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.
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