Typically characterised by a high-pitch, sing-song tone with slow simple phrases repeated over and over, almost every dog owner has been known to indulge in dog speak. For instance, remember how you’d ask who’s a good boy/girl at least 50 times a day? We’re not sure about you, but we’re guilty as charged.While it’s a common phenomenon, we decided to dig in a little deeper. Does your dog understand dog-speak? More importantly, does it understand you?
What Is Dog-Speak?
When talking to human babies, we have a tendency of talking to them through higher pitches and at a reduced speed. This is believed to help in language acquisition and improve the bond between baby and adult.Likewise, dog-directed speech is characterised by the same traits, and plays an equally important role in furkid-pawrent relationship as well.
Dogs Love Dog-Speak
Much research has been dedicated to the effects of dog-directed speech versus adult-directed speech on dogs. Attention spans of the dogs were measured during both speech types, and it was found that they stared longer at the person using dog-speak. Moreover, they also preferred to spend more time with those who use this type of speech register. In essence, dogs do respond to dog-speak.Dog-Relevant Words Work
Some experiments have also been conducted to determine whether the content of the dog-directed speech affects the dog’s response. For example, dogs were told ‘let’s go for a stroll’ and ‘you are a good dog’ both in similar stress patterns and tone.It was found that dogs displayed a preference for the person who used dog-speak with dog-related words, i.e. the latter. In contrast, they didn’t interact as much with the person who used human-directed speech with no dog-directed words.
The findings suggest that dogs are more attuned to dog-speak – it improves their attention span and strengthens the bond with their pawrents.
Communicating With Your Pup
When engaging in dog-speak, it’s best to note the following pointers:
● Be audible and consistent
Like us, dogs pick up cues from their environment. You need to speak clearly and with repetition so that your dog can connect your words with the situation or item.
Soon, they will be able to understand what you are trying to say, and respond accordingly.
● Intonation is important
Dogs have a good sense of hearing better than most human beings. They are sensitive to loud sounds, so it’s best to not raise your voice.
● Use shorter phrases
As vets in Singapore can attest to, dogs are intelligent creatures. However, at the same time, dogs do not speak our language.
To ease the communication process, use shorter phrases or even better, single words.
● Reinforce good behaviourIt’s important to reinforce good behaviour in your dog.
Rather than punishing them, commend them with “good job” or “well done” when they’ve done well. You can also reward them with a tasty treat, and they will come to associate the good behaviour with the joy of eating.