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INSIGHTS

Turn Setbacks into Setups

Does Talking To My Pet Make Me Cute…Or Crazy?

June 18, 2019

At the end of a busy day, you come home to find your dog waiting for you by the door. “Who’s a good boy?” you praise, sinking down to ruffle his fur.


If you have a pet, you’re probably familiar with this situation (and you probably read that question in your “pet talk” voice). When it comes to our pets, we sometimes tend to go the extra mile to communicate with them when we’re alone—or even when we aren’t.


But is it weird or abnormal to talk to your pet?


First off, talking to pets is incredibly common.


If you’ve been around other pet owners, you already know that many greet their pets, ask them questions, or talk to them about their daily lives. We like to treat our pets as human friends, or as little members of our family.


What makes it even easier is that our pets often “talk back.” Your cat might brush against your legs in response to a question or your dog might wag its tail at the tone of your voice. This feedback, while not a verbal language of its own, makes us even more likely to continue the conversation. With responsive animals, we tend to naturally communicate often—but there’s also nothing wrong with connecting with less responsive pets, such as lizards, snakes, or fish. As humans, we tend to anthropomorphize almost anything we can, and pets are no exception.


Many pets already recognize human emotions.


Dogs and cats, in particular, are great at this, having evolved side by side with humans for thousands of years. As a result of this relationship, they tend to be very perceptive when it comes to human emotion, based solely on our body language and the pitch of our voice.


In other words, your pet might not have a clear understanding of exactly what you’re telling them, but they can often understand strong emotions linked to your words. If you’ve ever had a cat who cuddled with you when you were upset or a dog who tried to make you feel better when you were frustrated, you know what we’re talking about.


Pets are a source of unconditional love.

No matter what you tell your pet, they’re going to love you anyway. This unconditional love actually makes them a great sounding board when you need non-judgmental support. In fact, studies show that pets can help us feel less lonely, lower our stress levels, and even make us happier in general. Talking to your pet, then, is more about talking to a companion, or to a friend who encourages us when we need it.


Animals may benefit as well.


Studies have found that “baby talk,” an infant-directed speech pattern we use when speaking to babies, shares similarities to “pet talk.” Infant-directed speech is thought to help young children bond with the adults in their lives.


Well, one study sought to understand whether dog-directed speech actually does the same thing for dogs as well. Their findings show that dogs actually pay more attention to dog-directed speech than normal adult-directed speech. The study also shows that this type of specific speech “has the potential to strengthen the affiliative bond a human has with a dog.”
In other words, talking to your pet certainly benefits you, and it might even benefit your pet as well. So if it makes you feel better to chat with your pet, you’re not crazy—and there’s no reason to stop!

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