Dogs prefer praise to treats

Dogs are social animals, especially when it comes to their owners. But will they choose praise over food? A new study suggests just that.

Researchers from Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. combined brain-imaging data with behavioral experiments to explore canine reward preferences. The researchers concluded that many dogs prefer praise from their owners over food.

The study was published Aug. 12 in the journal Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.

“We are trying to understand the basis of the dog-human bond and whether it’s mainly about food, or about the relationship itself,” said Gregory S. Berns, PhD, and lead author of the research.

“Out of the 13 dogs that completed the study, we found that most of them either 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."

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