Thanks to science we can now tell what our dogs are thinking. Well, sort of…
Using MRI scanners, researchers have discovered that dogs enjoy receiving praise just as much as receiving treats. Which means dogs’ reputation for only feeling love with their bellies isn’t true.
The researchers were delving deeper into the complex, age-old relationship between humans and dogs to discover how dogs’ brains respond to human communication. In other words, do dogs really love us as much as we think, or do they just want our food?
By observing the brain activity of the participating dogs, the researchers showed the dogs different objects, gave them treats and also praise. The results show that praise stimulates a dog’s brain at similar levels – if not higher – than food treats.
(You’ll be relieved to hear that the study was conducted while the dogs were awake and unconstrained and that the study deliberately chose dogs who were described as ‘low energy’. Lots of Retrievers, fewer energetic Terriers!)
That’s good news for you and your dog. Fewer treats should help your dog stay in shape! And swapping out some treats for praise means a healthier and happier dog. But that’s not all, you’ll be happier lavishing your pup with praise, knowing that you’re sending all kind of delicious signals to your dog’s brain. You could save a bit of cash, too! If you’re looking to improve your pup’s performance of tricks or commands, why not check out these positive reinforcement tips.