Why Do People Use “Baby Talk” with Their Pets?

Many pet owners refer to their furry companions as their "babies," and now research suggests that might be fairly appropriate. In a recent study, scientists found that using "baby talk" with a dog is much more likely to get a good reaction than speaking normally, regardless of the words being spoken. The researchers recruited about three dozen pet dogs and put them in a room with two people, one of whom spoke in a normal conversational tone, while the other spoke in "dog-baby talk." The dogs universally responded more readily to the latter. Interestingly enough, the baby voice we use with dogs isn't quite the same as what we use with our real children: Exaggerated vowel sounds are absent, for instance. In other words, dogs and their owners have a special language all their own. Not surprisingly, the scientists haven't worked up the nerve to try the same study with cats.

For the love of dogs:

  • You can't hear it, but Paul McCartney incorporated an ultrasonic whistle at the end of The Beatles' tune "A Day in the Life" as a greeting to his sheepdog.
  • People typically teach their dogs about 165 words, but they can learn many more: A border collie holds the record with knowledge of 1,022 words.
  • On average, it costs between $1,000 and $1,500 USD a year to own a dog -- which most people would say is a bargain.
More Info: National Geographic

Discussion Comments


I have a cat and it does take notice. But cats are far more independent than dogs.

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