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‘Puppy Talk’: What Dogs Really Think of Your Silly Baby Voice

Jan 12, 2017 07:49 AM EST
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Dogs are man's best friend, but in a lot of ways, they're a lot like babies too. In fact, it's not at all unusual to hear people talk to their pets in a very particular way, much like they speak to babies: high-pitched and slow.

As it turns out, puppies love it when humans address them in puppy talk. Adult dogs? Not so much. To be more accurate, a new study revealed that the cutesy way people speak to babies and puppies make no difference to grown-up dogs.

According to a report from Eurekalert, an international team led by Dr. Nicolas Mathevon of Hunter College, City University of New York (CUNY), and the University of Lyon in Saint-Etienne, France conducted a study that observed how puppies and grown-up dogs respond to puppy talk. The researchers found out that puppies are very reactive to what they call "dog-directed speech", but adult dogs do not respond differently from puppy talk than normal speech.

The researchers recorded 30 women as they read from a script while looking at a picture of a dog and then repeating it to another person after, a report from Science Magazine revealed. The script read, "Hi! Hello cutie! Who's a good boy? Come here! Good boy! Yes! Come here sweetie pie! What a good boy!"

It was observed that the women tend to resort to dog-directed speech even when speaking just to a picture of a puppy, but not when they're addressing humans.

Then, the team played the recordings of the women to 10 puppies and 10 adult dogs. In hearing dog-directed speech, nine out of the 10 puppies ran towards the speaker and some even adopted a "play" pose. However, when the recordings of normal speech were played to them, they became less interested.

On the other hand, the adult dogs were non-responsive to speech directed at puppies, older dogs or humans.

"They had a quick look at the speaker, and then ignored it," Mathevon said.

The study was published on the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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