Puppies Love Your ‘Heya Heya Buba,’ Study Suggests

Puppies Love Your ‘Heya Heya Buba,’ Study Suggests Puppy (Lisa L Wiedmeier/FLICKR) with CC BY-SA 2.0

If you want to communicate well with dogs, do it like you’re talking to a child, a new study suggested. As it turned out, dogs are more responsive to baby talk. But just like human infants, dogs in different age groups respond differently to various modes of human speech.

In a study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B on Wednesday, scientists claimed to have discovered how dogs respond to the human voice. Different tones of the human voice elicit different responses from canine subjects. This, according to researchers, proves that even dogs recognize the pitch of a human voice and that it does affect communication.

Dogs Understand Human Voice

Although a high-pitched human voice elicited a more heightened attention among puppies, at 21 percent, the disparity is almost negligible. At least 13 percent of older dogs responded well, while for adult dogs, 11 percent. When the experimenter played the recorded voice using a high-pitched human voice, puppies were among the first to respond. “We found that human speakers used dog-directed speech with dogs of all ages and that the acoustic structure of dog-directed speech was mostly independent of dog age, except for sound pitch which was relatively higher when communicating with puppies,” an excerpt of the study reads.

Other interesting findings of the study were that in lieu of non-auditory cues, such as the wiggling of a stick or a hand gesture, puppies are more reactive to dog-directed speech. This means that auditory cues play an important role in honing their behaviors. The study demonstrated that high-pitched human voice has specific functional importance in puppies.

Increased Brain Activity

According to a separate study published in the journal Science, dogs do understand human speech. By MRI scanner, researchers from Hungary revealed that an area in the dogs’ brain is highly active when responding to human language. This increase neural activity is indicative that dogs do process information from human language.

The left hemisphere of the human brain is lateralized or highly specialized for language functions. With the experiment, it showed that the same region of the dogs’ brain specifically showed increased activity. This demonstrates that dogs do not only hear human voices and react based on impulses, but also process this information.

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