Baby Talk Could Actually Help Your Dog Listen Better

Dogs pay more attention when you use your "good boy" voice.

“Who’s a good boy?!”

You probably read those words in a baby voice — and according to a new study from the University of York, there’s a good reason why.

Looking at how babies quickly become bonded to parents who speak to them in a high-pitched, excited voice, researchers have discovered that the tone can also have a similar effect on our relationships with dogs.

dog hug baby voice excited
Megan Sweers

The research team introduced adult dogs to a group of people in a room and observed which humans they preferred interacting with: those who spoke in “dog-speak,” or just in a regular tone.

Most of the dogs were more interested in the high-pitched speakers — but the topic of conversation was also important. The dogs were more likely to respond to people talking in a high-pitched voice about things they like, such as eating treats or going for a walk, than people talking about more boring topics in the same voice.

“This suggests that adult dogs need to hear dog-relevant words spoken in a high-pitched emotional voice in order to find it relevant,” Alex Benjamin, a PhD student who was involved in the study, said

Overall, the study suggests that talking about dog activities in a high-pitched voice can in fact improve a pup’s attention — and strengthen their bond with their human in the process.

dog selfie happy baby voice
Cesar Fernandez Chavez

"We hope this research will be useful for pet owners interacting with their dogs, and also for veterinary professionals and rescue workers,” Benjamin added.

Of course, it’s possible that most adult dogs respond to baby voices because they're so used to hearing us talk like that. But whatever the reason, the next time someone jokes with you for babying your dog, you can let them know science is on your side.