News Department

National Dog Day: New Jersey ranks 1st most likely to talk to their pets like they’re human

NEW JERSEYThe dog days of summer are in full swing, but the real dog day, National Dog Day, is coming up this Saturday. And if you’re one of hundreds of millions of Americans who own a pet, you probably talk to them just like they’re a person.

Two-thirds of American households have at least one pet, and last year they collectively spent a record-breaking $136.8 billion on their animal friends. Dogs and cats are the most popular, with three-quarters of dog and cat owners considering their companions part of the family.

For many people, understanding animals is the superpower of their dreams. Some owners have tried training their pets to press buttons to let them “speak.” By pressing the button for “want” and “treat,” for example, pets can ask for a snack in plain English.

Research shows they understand us perfectly well, too. Dogs, for example, can do much more than obey a few simple commands. Scientists scanned the brains of dogs and discovered the canines not only understood words but tone of voice.

With all that in mind, it makes perfect sense to talk to your pet. We wanted to know just how many people did it. And amongst those who do, we wanted to know how they spoke and how they imagined their dog and cat pals responded. We surveyed 1,500 American pet owners to find out.

Key takeaways

  • Nevada and New Jersey tie for the state whose residents are most likely to talk to their pets
  • Dog owners (83%) talk to their pets more than cat owners (68%)
  • Most pet owners (55%) think their pet understands them more than people do
  • Over half of Gen Z (53%) and 41% of Millennials feel their pet fills the role of a child

Talk to the paw: The U.S. states most likely to talk to their pets

Do you talk to your pet? If you do, you’re not alone. According to our survey, 84% of respondents regularly talk to their pets like fellow humans.

The state where most people talk to their pets: Nevada and New Jersey

On a state-by-state basis, Nevada and New Jersey tie for the top spot. With 95% of pet owners in each state telling us they speak to their furry friends, doing so is more than ordinary.

Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Colorado are close behind in a three-way tie for second place. In each of those states, 93% of people said that they talk to their pets.

The state where the fewest people talk to their pets: Montana

You might think that the states with the most pets would also be the places where talking to pets is most common. That’s not the case, though. As of 2022, Wyoming had the highest rate of pet ownership, but according to our survey, only 56% of pet owners from Wyoming talk to their pets.

That puts the state at 46th. It only beat North Dakota, Louisiana, Kansas, and Montana – the only state where most people don’t talk to their pets. Only 45% of people in Montana do so, according to our survey.

In each state, these are the percentage of residents who talk to their pets like people:

  • Alabama: 83%
  • Alaska: 62%
  • Arizona: 82%
  • Arkansas: 70%
  • California: 86%
  • Colorado: 93%
  • Connecticut: 83%
  • Delaware: 82%
  • Florida: 91%
  • Georgia: 87%
  • Hawaii: 65%
  • Idaho: 73%
  • Illinois: 83%
  • Indiana: 91%
  • Iowa: 88%
  • Kansas: 50%
  • Kentucky: 88%
  • Louisiana: 50%
  • Maine: 82%
  • Maryland: 78%
  • Massachusetts: 86%
  • Michigan: 87%
  • Minnesota: 60%
  • Mississippi: 75%
  • Missouri: 93%
  • Montana: 45%
  • Nebraska: 57%
  • Nevada: 95%
  • New Hampshire: 80%
  • New Jersey: 95%
  • New Mexico: 85%
  • New York: 86%
  • North Carolina: 71%
  • North Dakota: 52%
  • Ohio: 77%
  • Oklahoma: 86%
  • Oregon: 92%
  • Pennsylvania: 93%
  • Rhode Island: 75%
  • South Carolina: 88%
  • South Dakota: 71%
  • Tennessee: 88%
  • Texas: 91%
  • Utah: 79%
  • Vermont: 90%
  • Virginia: 80%
  • Washington: 75%
  • West Virginia: 67%
  • Wisconsin: 88%
  • Wyoming: 56%

How Americans talk to their pets

So, we’ve determined how likely people are to talk to their pets. How do they do it, though? As we’ve mentioned, tone of voice is important when talking to pets. They can tell when you’re mad or happy.

Dog owners talk to their pets more

If you guessed this, congratulations. It’s true: Some 83% of dog owners talk to their canine companions, while 68% of cat owners chat with their feline friends.

How do people talk to their pets?

If you’re a pet owner, you probably know the type of voice most people use. Most people use a higher-pitched tone of voice than usual – 65%, to be exact. A majority, 56% of respondents, also said they use baby talk.

You’re a little more unique if you sing or read stories to your pet. Our survey indicated 37% of Americans do this for their furry friends.

Have you seen the hilarious videos of owners speaking to their dogs through remote cameras? They’re great but still rare. That’s because only 16% of Americans use technology to communicate with their pets while they’re away.

Our survey was in English, so it’s unsurprising that almost all respondents only spoke English to their pets. However, 15% said they used a language other than English.

How do pets talk back?

When you talk to your pet, do they talk back? Literally, we mean. Do you imagine them speaking to you? If you do, you’re not alone.

What do they sound like? A celebrity? One-quarter of pet owners told us they think their pet sounds like Tom Hanks. Some 15% imagine the voice of Betty White.

Most Americans think their pet understands them more than people do

Pet owners understand. Your companion just gets you. Even the most aloof of cats is often happy when we get home from holiday, even if they try to hide it.

That’s why 55% of respondents agreed that their pet understands them more than some people do.

Pets are also great listeners, which is why 60% of respondents agreed that they talk to their pets more than they do some of their friends or family members.

Talking to your pet might be fun, but does it make you a better pet owner? No, according to 73% of respondents. So if you’re one of the few people who aren’t so talkative, you’re all good.

You likely know someone who considers their pet their child. You might think that yourself, especially if you’re younger. While 39% of respondents felt their pet filled the role of a child in their life, believing so was more common amongst Gen Z than Millennials.

There’s a reason “puppy dog eyes” is a saying. As any pet lover can tell you, they might not use words, but our dog and cat companions can usually make themselves understood. But most of us can empathize with trying to communicate when not having the right tools.

If you want to help make yourself understood, no matters your audience, find an online language tutor on Preply. They don’t recommend using your pet as a language partner, though.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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