LOS ANGELES, CA - What's the best way to train your pup? Everyone knows they love a treat, but a new study published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience shows good old-fashioned love and affection might be even better.
Researchers monitored the reward and decision-making centers in dogs’ brains while their owners either praised them or gave them hot dogs. Proving what you already knew in your heart (that your dog likes you for you) 13 out of 15 dogs’ brains lit up just as much or more when they were getting loved on, compared to being fed.
In a follow up experiment, the researchers had the dogs choose between their owner and a bowl of food. Again, the majority of the dogs chose their owners- except for those two who had preferred the hot dogs.
Researchers say this could change the way working dogs get assigned. Dogs who love praise would be great for therapy, while those whose “hearts belong to Snausage” would probably do better in more independent jobs, like search and rescue. Until we can get Buster his own brain scan, we’re just gonna be extra generous with the tummy rubs.