DOGSDog InsurancePet-ymology: Speaking our dogs’ language

Pet-ymology: Speaking our dogs’ language

From walkies to din dins, Petplan reveals the weird and wonderful phrases owners use to talk to their dogs.

Dogs are often referred to as man’s best friend, but how well do you communicate with your dog? In a recent survey, we found that a huge 54% of dog owners admitted to having their own language to communicate with their pet!

We know our pets react naturally to experiences and routine – from when we fetch a lead from the cupboard, or rattle a food packet, but in a recent study that we conducted here at Petplan, results also highlighted that many pet owners had to lower their voice to prevent their dog from overhearing certain words which might lead to overexcitement – showing that some pets are listening in on conversations more than we might think!

The study revealed that the top 10 words dog owners whisper or disguise to prevent an overreaction were:


What’s more – almost a third of dog owners said their dog understands and reacts to the word ‘vet’, with 32% even creating their own code words for ‘vet’ to avoid their dog becoming anxious ahead of a visit there.

Alongside vet, other words that owners perceived to be their dog’s least favourites were ‘bathtime’, and ‘no’!

Conversely, food was a common theme when it came to the words that excite dogs the most. As well as the top 10 above, some owners said ‘chicken’, ‘sausage’ and ‘cheese’ caused excitable reactions from their pups, meaning they had to be careful not to mention these in conversation!

And heart-warmingly, it seems family relationships are at the core of what makes our pets happy, with ‘grandma’ and ‘nanny’s’ also featuring in the list of words that induce a lively, positive energy in our pooches!

The Doggy Dictionary
Within our research, we discovered some truly weird and wonderful phrases shared between dogs and their owners – many of which feature playful repetition or alliteration. Here’s a round-up of our favourites!

  1. The Dogter
  2. Noun

    An alternative word for a veterinary professional, most commonly used by owners to avoid saying the word ‘vet’ and therefore causing their pet anxiety.
    I’ll meet you at 1.30pm – I need to take Charlie to the Dogter first.

  3. Yum Yums
  4. Noun

    Meaning ‘dinner time’, and referring to the tasty food that awaits.
    It’s time for yum-yums!

  5. Tats
  6. Noun

    A common alternative for ‘walkies’.
    Let’s go tats!

  7. Booboo
  8. Noun

    A softer, empathetic way to refer to a wound or injury.
    Let me see that – do you have a booboo?

  9. T&T
  10. Noun

    An acronym meaning ‘tablet and treat’ – a playful way to announce it’s time for medication and a reward in return.
    Six o’ clock? That means it’s T&T time!

  11. Pitter patter
  12. Noun

    Another ‘walkies’ alternative, referencing the little pitter patter of paws on the street.
    You want to go out again? But we’ve just been for a pitter patter!

  13. Scranules
  14. Noun

    Taken from the popular northern word for food – ‘scran’, this is a fun take on ‘food’ or ‘dinnertime’ that rolls off the tongue!
    Are you hungry? Are you ready for scranules?

    Research conducted by 3Gem on behalf of Petplan January 2024

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