Pretend like you’re talking to your dog. You know you do it. That somewhat high-pitched, almost excited tone your voice assumes when you converse with Fido is exactly what Fido likes. Who knew?
Researchers were looking for the best, most effective way to talk to your dog. They gave volunteers pictures of dogs of different ages and a list of things to say, recording them. Then they gave the volunteers pictures of people and had them say the same list of words they had spoken to the dogs. Then they played the tapes back in front of shelter dogs. Most liked the dog voices the best. It turns out we unconsciously change our voices when we talk to dogs, something Monica Schmidt with the Houston Humane Society is very familiar with, especially when prospective adoptive families approach puppies. “Our puppies love when volunteers or potential adopters come in, and they’re excited, and a little more high-pitched. The puppies have always responded better to that.” Nine out of then puppies responded more favorably to people using their “puppy” voices. Older dogs, depending on breed and age, she says, like a calmer approach, for whatever reason. “Whether it’s conditioning as they age, maybe they’ve become more cautious just like humans do, or their listening levels change as they get older.” Older dogs didn’t respond too much differently to dog-directed speech or human-directed speech, so if you want to talk politics with your aging pooch, they’ll listen. And love you unconditionally.