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Study Shows Dogs Prefer Praise To Treats

Give your pooch what he really wants!

A new study suggests that, if given a choice, your dog would prefer a word of praise rather than a treat.

In the study, researchers scanned the brains of 15 dogs. The dogs were shown a toy car and given praise, and then later they were shown a toy horse and given a piece of a hot dog. Thirteen of the 15 dogs showed an “equal or greater response” to the car/praise.

Dog eats cookies.
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Another experiment had the dogs in a maze with a bowl of food at one end and their favorite human at the other. In most cases, the dogs headed for their person instead of the food. The dogs that did go for the food were the same ones that preferred treats in the first test.

man petting dog photo
Photo by RTD Photography

So there you have it—the love affair affair between dogs and their humans is mutual, as the Mental Floss article concludes. Oxytocin (aka “the cuddle hormone”) increases almost 60 percent in a dog after they’ve enjoyed playtime with their human. Cats? Meh. Only a 12 percent rise. But we already knew that.