Talking to Dogs: Companion Animal-Directed Speech in a Stress Test
Department of Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna, Althanstrasse 14, 1090 Vienna, Austria
Department of Behavioral Biology, Konrad Lorenz Research Station, University of Vienna, Althanstrasse 14, 1090 Vienna, Austria
Department of Special Education, Institut für Sonderpädagogische Entwicklungsförderung und Rehabilitation, University of Rostock, August-Bebel-Str. 28, 18055 Rostock, Germany
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 3 June 2019 / Revised: 25 June 2019 / Accepted: 27 June 2019 / Published: 4 July 2019
Companion animal-directed speech is a current topic of research, interesting due to its similarity to infant-directed speech. Dog owners seem to almost subconsciously use this high-pitched and repetitive way of speaking, slightly adapted, for dogs. The aim of this study was to investigate dog-directed speech in different contexts and examine whether owner personality and relationship quality affect it. We found that owners’ personality and gender affect their dog-directed speech. The majority of the modifications of dog-directed speech could be explained by a differential use of voice pitch and range. Our study supports the idea that voice pitch was used to communicate affect, whereas pitch range was used as an attention-getting strategy. Based on our results, we conclude that dog-directed speech is adjusted depending on context, gender, and personality. Societal value in this study consists of its contribution to basic knowledge of how we talk to animals, which may help in preventing accidents (e.g., dog bites) as well as improving animal training.