Do you talk to your dog? A high, loving voice deepens the bond

Ferenczi Deborah

2023. September 24 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

It is a well-known fact that talking to a baby strengthens the bond between parent and child and has a very positive effect on the child's development. Well, let's face it, many pet owners consider their pet as their own child, so they may find themselves talking to the animal. Does this create the same strong bond between you and your pet?


Almost every owner loves to talk to their dog. On the one hand, they think it helps to deepen the bond somewhat. And on the other hand, dogs make the best audience. So it’s no wonder that you find yourself telling your doggy what’s been going on with you for at least an hour.

Conversation deepens the bond

Alex Benjamin and Katie Slocombe, researchers from the University of York, set out to investigate whether the typical style of talking most people use with animals (very similar to communication with children and babies) deepens the bond between pets and humans. The researchers were also curious about how dogs experience this type of communication. Interestingly, they found a remarkable number of similarities between baby-momma and owner-pet communication. The research also showed that, just as the discourse between mother and baby deepens the bond, the same is clearly true of the chat between dog and owner.

The power of the high voice

Slocombe and his team found that, while talking is a fundamental way to strengthen the bond, it has almost nothing to do with the tone of voice you use when talking to the animal. Not only is high-pitched, affectionate vocalization a very endearing form of conversation, it also significantly deepens attachment in both children and animals.

Does the subject of the speech matter?

For the study, the researchers designed two experiments in which humans interacted with dogs. In the first, the researchers tested adult-directed speech against dog-directed speech. So they also tested an objectified form, similar to the way you talk to another adult. Then they also tested a kind, affectionate, slightly cuddly type of speech. Which is common in communication between dogs and their owners. Then they also made sure to match the content, so they talked about walking, playing, food. In contrast, adult speech included phrases such as “I went to the cinema last night”, spoken in a “normal” tone of voice. During the two types of speech, the dogs’ focus of attention was measured. And after listening to these, the dogs were asked to choose which speaker they would like to communicate with. This first experiment revealed that the dogs showed a strong preference for people who spoke to them in a dog-directed manner.

Further results of the study

The researchers were not entirely sure whether the special attention was due solely to the fact that they spoke to the dogs in a kind voice. So they tried another experiment. In the second, they reversed the content, with the kind talkers sharing average human things and the matter-of-fact talkers sharing dog activities. Once again, the dogs preferred those who, while not in a loving tone, chatted to them about animal things that were relevant to them. However, when neither party talked about topics that concerned them, they preferred those who used a higher voice frequency.

better bond with the dog children dog and owner human and dog relationship

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