Does your dog love to hear you talk to them? I bet they do! You might notice your pup cocking their head to one side to listen to you. They’ll also stare at your face and eyes, looking for cues as to your mood. Dogs LOVE looking at people, and figuring out what we’re trying to communicate- that’s why they’ve been such close family members over the centuries!
There’s been really interesting evidence that dogs understand tone and sometimes the words being used. Take for example this article from Science:
We often say the same sweet, nonsensical things to our dogs that we say to our babies—and in almost the same slow, high-pitched voice. Now, scientists have shown that puppies find our pooch-directed speech exciting, whereas older dogs are somewhat indifferent. The findings show, for the first time, that young dogs respond to this way of talking, and that it may help them learn words—as such talk does with human babies.
To find out how dogs reacted to human speech, Nicolas Mathevon, a bioacoustician at the University of Lyon in Saint Étienne, France, and his colleagues first recorded the voices of 30 women as they looked at a dog’s photograph and read from a script, “Hi! Hello cutie! Who’s a good boy? Come here! Good boy! Yes! Come here sweetie pie! What a good boy!” (The scientists were afraid the women would ad lib if they spoke to a real dog.) The women also repeated the passage to a person.
When the scientists compared the human- and dog-directed speech, they found that, as expected, the women spoke in distinctive, high-pitched, sing-song tones to the pooches—but not the humans. “It didn’t matter if it was a puppy or an adult dog,” Mathevon says. But the women did speak at an even higher pitch when looking at puppy photos.
Next, the researchers played these recordings in short trials with 10 puppies and 10 adult dogs at a New York City animal shelter and videotaped their responses. Nine of the puppies reacted strongly, barking and running toward the loudspeaker even when the recording had been made for an older dog, the team reports today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Some even bent toward the loudspeaker in a play bow, a pose meant to initiate horseplay, suggesting they may regard dog-directed speech as “an invitation to play,” Mathevon says. The puppies were less interested in the recordings of the women speaking to the person. And the adult dogs? “They didn’t care at all,” Mathevon says. It made no difference if they heard speech directed at puppies, older dogs, or humans. “They had a quick look at the speaker, and then ignored it.”
Wow! So, dogs know when we’re talking to them… and they pick up on the tone being used. So, if you’re one of the countless pet parents who works a 9-5 that won’t let you bring your pup to work, is your dog missing a golden opportunity to hear people talking to them, thus learning and socializing?
How Doggy Day Care Helps Your Dog Learn
Dogs aren’t readers, so there’s no ‘independent study’ for our furry family members. They need interaction in order to learn! And, since it’s obvious from the above that dogs react more strongly to people talking to them, there’s no substitution for good ol’ fashioned supervised doggy day care! Our amazing room attendants talk to the dogs and keep an eye on things, sometimes ‘cooling them down’ or getting them more in the spirit to play! Our rooms are safe and secure, and you can always watch the party with our webcams (we’re down during naptime to allow the dogs some rest and privacy).
Ready to get started? Book a tour today! We can’t wait to meet you.