The Top 35 Words We Say to Our Dogs

boy playing with dogs words

If your dogs are anything like mine, some of the most common words they hear (besides, of course, “I love you soooo much”) are “OFF!” and “DOWN!”

Yet these two words are nowhere to be found on a list compiled by researchers Alexandra Horowitz and Julie Hecht from Barnard College’s Dog Cognition Lab. In a new study examining how dogs and people play, they watched 187 videos of people, from the ages of 8 to 75 and in 19 different countries, playing with their dogs, and noted the words most commonly used.

The researchers also looked at how people interacted with their dogs during playtime. While only half of the men touched their dogs, two-thirds of the women did. Dog professionals, such as veterinarians, trainers and groomers, tended to stay in closer proximity to their dogs than did other pet parents.

The mood of the person also had an affect on the interaction, the researchers discovered. Pet parents who appeared to be happy touched their dogs more often and played more actively. Not surprisingly, as for the four-legged players, “Dog affect was overwhelmingly positive,” the researchers noted.

These were the words most commonly said by pet parents to their dogs in the videos:

  1. You
  2. Good
  3. It
  4. Get/got
  5. Gonna
  6. Come/C’mon
  7. (Dog’s name)
  8. Girl
  9. Yay/yeah
  10. That
  11. Here
  12. I
  13. On
  14. Oh
  15. Are/aren’t/’re
  16. Ready
  17. Boy
  18. The
  19. Give me/gimme
  20. Play
  21. Okay
  22. What/whatcha/what’s
  23. Me
  24. To
  25. Yes/yea
  26. Do/does
  27. Wanna/want
  28. Where/where’s/where’d
  29. Your
  30. Drop
  31. Is
  32. No
  33. Ball/bally
  34. Am/’m
  35. This

As Discover Magazine reports, since more dogs are being trained to become human helpers, studies like this are useful in gaining a better understanding of how dogs and their owners interact.

Photo credit: Tony Crescibene

Laura Goldman

I am a freelance writer and lifelong dog lover. For five years, I was a staff writer for i Love Dogs. When that site shut down, I started this blog...because I STILL Love Dogs!