My Girl and I have been spending a lot more time with my mother (her nana) in the wake of my father’s passing (her pop-pop). One outcome of this has been my mother having more exposure to just how much I baby talk My Girl, an 11 year-old chihuahua dachshund rescue. She was a bit alarmed (my mother, not My Girl). Water becomes wa-wa, and somehow most words end up being made plural: “It’s times to goeses to bedsies!” Sure, My Girl occasionally gives me a dirty look that says “You are really debasing yourself, Lady,” but the tail never lies!! That thing starts going a mile a minute when I lay on the sugar. So my mother may raise an eyebrow, but gushy gooey talk works for us. And apparently it works for most canine children. A veterinarian in South Carolina, Dr. Julie Buzby, says that Pet-directed speech (PDS) is positively received by dogs, likely due to the higher pitch and volume:
“Surprisingly, science seems to support the value of this higher-pitched speech when communicating with our pets and even our horses,” Dr. Buzby explains.
Science backs up that yes, dogs actually enjoy baby talk and are more likely to respond to it.
“We don’t fully understand why dogs seem to be more sensitive to this way of speaking,” Dr. Buzby says. “Maybe it’s because dogs communicate amongst themselves with high-pitched barks and yips. These sounds might be prioritized by dogs’ sensitive ears and processed faster in the brain.”
So even though the reasons why pets respond so well to pet-directed speech remain unclear, the research is certainly in favor of humans using baby voices with dogs.
“Studies have shown that dogs are sensitive to both the pitch and timbre of the human voice and respond more favorably to PDS than standard adult speech patterns,” Dr. Buzby says.
However, experts aren’t sure if this is a behavior that dogs have learned, or if they truly prefer it. Still, Dr. Buzby says it’s a great way to further communicate with your dog, and if it gets your dog to listen to you, then go for it.
After all, Dr. Buzby adds, “It is believed that baby talk can improve how well your dog listens to you, and it might even improve the bond that you have with your dog.”
[From Parade via Yahoo]
I really hope that as a vet Dr. Buzby has been able to work with some bee patients, because otherwise that’s a tragic missed opportunity, punnily speaking. As for this “research” on dogs and baby talk, it did seem to boil down to “Do they like it? Yes. Why? No idea yet!” Clearly more research is required, and My Girl and I would be happy to contribute. The decibel that little girl can reach is nothing short of astounding. There really is no other word to describe it but shrill. She deploys this yipping when a human shows up at home to relieve her of her solitude. So then I have to kick into high gear to calm her down, with “You’re a very good girl and Mama loves you. I told you I would come back, my love.” Once she’s recovered from nervous breakdown territory she becomes very demanding: “Walk me. Feed me. Sit down so I can sit on top of you and prevent you from EVER leaving me again.” We really are quite happy together.
A note from My Girl: Everything that Lady said is a lie. I am not SHRILL! And I do not need this so-called “baby talk.” If anything it’s the Lady who needs it. I’m just moving my tail for exercise. I’m not a baby. I’m a very serious person who spends all day thinking about very serious things, in a seriously serious way. I’m hungry.
photos credit: Lauren Whitaker, Samson Katt, Alana Sousa and Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels
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