We’re all guilty of talking to our pets. And while often our communicative attempts seem to go unnoticed, some things we say get an instant reaction – with calling a pet a “good boy” or “good girl” being one way to get an adorable response. At least, that’s what a recent reddit feed has shown.
It all began in December 2016, when redditor JavaReallySucks posted two snaps of his dog – and the images showed that the white pooch’s face switched from docile to sheer delight after receiving a “good boy” compliment. In any case, that’s what it looks like to us. After all, the dog’s eyes narrowed with apparent happiness, and his pink tongue lolled out from his open mouth.
In a matter of days, the cute post had attracted over 1,000 comments. Many of them came from fellow pet owners sharing similar joyous photos of praised puppies. And among them was this transformation from snarling savage to adorable doe-eyed doggie in the blink of an eye.
The simple compliment seemed to bring out the cheeky side of some creatures. For instance, this little Chihuahua couldn’t resist sticking his tongue out upon hearing the words of admiration.
In fact, being told that they were good boys proved to be the ultimate mood-lifter for some canines. This pug, for instance, was able to turn his wrinkled frown upside down. He even cracked a smile for the camera after his loving owner doted on him.
Perhaps this is unsurprising, though, as a 2016 study showed that dogs process language in a way similar to humans. Moreover, the group of Hungarian researchers discovered that when it comes to language, canines also use both sides of their brains.
Yes, scientists found that the right side of a pooch’s brain is designed to decipher emotions, while the left side tries to gauge meaning. Therefore, when both the emotional and logical sides of the brain agree, it could trigger a happy emotional response.
So, the researchers concluded, it is not enough to merely call our pets “good.” No, we have to say it like we mean it. That’s because using praising intonations activates our canines’ reward centers. Of course, petting, eating and sex also stimulate these reward centers, but hearing sincere praise is up there as well.
“It shows that for dogs, a nice praise can very well work as a reward, but it works best if both words and intonation match,” said Dr. Attila Andics in August 2016 in an interview with The Independent. “So dogs not only tell apart what we say and how we say it, but they can also combine the two, for a correct interpretation of what those words really meant.”
However, as the internet has since shown, the incredible effect of showering our pets with praise isn’t restricted to dogs alone. For example, when this pet bird found himself the subject of his owner’s admiration, he rewarded the owner with a flamboyant feather show.
Even reptiles got in on the act. Although most of this tortoise’s species aren’t known for being the most animated of animals, he was more than happy to respond to his compliment with a gracious lift of his head.
Then there was this snake, which was just relaxing in his tank when his owner decided to pay him a compliment. After hearing the words “good boy,” though, he slithered his way forward, tilted his scaly head upwards and seemingly cracked a smile in appreciation.
This tiny hedgehog also managed to ditch its prickly demeanor after hearing some words of encouragement from its master. Yes, the cute critter went from sitting coyly in someone’s hands to throwing back its head and lifting up a single paw, as if to say, “Oh, stop!”
This chicken was looking pretty down as it wandered through the snow. Thankfully, its owner decided to do something about it. And after hearing the magic words, the bird seemed freed from its pensive mood and spread its wings wide in a glorious display.
However, while the words “good boy” did appear to work wonders on a number of animals, one creature seemed immune to their powers. Unsurprisingly, cats just didn’t seem affected by hearing their owners praising them. In fact, the words even made one kitty very angry.
Perhaps our feline friends just don’t want to be bothered. Take, for example, this cat, which turned away from its owner in protest. However, it’s not that cats don’t understand humans. In fact, they do recognize their owners’ voices, but apparently, as part of a survival technique, they show no signs of emotion.
With that said, there’s no explaining this kitty’s hilarious reaction to being called a “good girl.” The black cat had been sitting calmly, but then she narrowed her eyes and contorted her face into a vexed expression.
So, with cats refusing to play ball, dogs remained a firm favorite of the online trend. In fact, it seemed that canines just couldn’t get enough of hearing the words “good boy.” For example, this pooch had been minding his own business when the simple expression brought a huge grin to his furry face.
But, surprisingly, the compliments seemed to also make some dogs shy. For instance, this little Chihuahua went from sitting upright to lying bashfully on her side and burying her face in her paw after receiving the praise. It was as if the flattery was making the adorable pup blush.
Elsewhere, this little doggy was just chilling in a fluffy blanket, paying his owner no attention at all. But, after uttering the now famous two words, the lucky person was rewarded. For the four-legged companion gave a heart-warming, wide-eyed smile.
While our pets bring so much joy to our lives, it’s nice to know that we can make them happy too. So, next time you see your animal looking sad, remember to tell them that they’re a good boy or girl. After all, you might get a smile like this one.