Does Your Dog Prefer Treats Or Praise?
When your dog does her series of three tricks — rolls over, shakes and speaks — in perfect succession, would she rather have a doggie treat or praise from you? Given the choice, many dogs actually prefer praise over food, according to researchers from Emory University in Atlanta. Dogs were at the center of the most famous experiments of classical conditioning, conducted by Ivan Pavlov in the early 1900s. Pavlov showed that if dogs are trained to associate a particular stimulus with food, the animals salivate in the mere presence of the stimulus in anticipation of the food. “One theory about dogs is that they are primarily Pavlovian machines: They just want food, and their owners are simply the means to get it,” said lead study author and neuroscientist Gregory Berns. “Another, more current, view of their behavior is that dogs value human contact in and of itself.” A study found that most preferred praise from their owners over food, or they appeared to like both equally. Only two of the dogs were real chowhounds, showing a strong preference for the food.