It is very common among pet owners to praise their dogs when they do a special trick or obey a command; and even the most basic training techniques use this type of verbal reward as a way of encouraging learning. However, American research has just found that dogs prefer affection as a form of reward over words - slightly changing the scenario already known by animal tutors and even professional trainers (who may already use some cuddles to improve the performance and performance of pets trained by them).
Conducted by the Canine Science Collaborative at Arizona State University, the study looked at the behavior of more than 40 dogs - including shelter animals and pets - while interacting in different ways with different people, obtaining results that suggest that dogs prefer petting in place of verbal incentives, in general.
To arrive at the results, the analysis was done placing a dog inside a room with two people; while, while one person stroked the animal, the other gave him a series of verbal praise - and the time the dog spent with each participant was observed.
In the second part of the analysis, more than 70 shelter and domestic dogs they were chosen as participants, being placed in a new room in the company of a single person - being that, in the case of domestic dogs, that person was its owner; whereas a stranger was directed to each shelter animal.
Read More: Veterinary management system
Eight sessions (three minutes each) were promoted for each animal, and the level of contact between the person and the dog varied in each of them, and may include only cuddles, only verbal praise, affection and praise or no contact. From observation, scientists found that dogs spent much more time with people who cared for them - while those who praised animals were no more successful than those who did not have any contact with dogs.
Although the results prove that verbal incentives are less important than believed until recently, even the scientists who conducted the study and are pet owners do not intend to stop talking to their four-legged friends - since, even though they know that, perhaps, isolated verbal praise can not be recognized by dogs; there is nothing to prevent this behavior, associated with affection, from being able to bring even better results in different day-to-day activities.