Food or Praise, What Do Dogs Desire Most?

Given the choice, many dogs prefer praise from their owners rather than food, according to one of the first studies to combine brain-imaging data with behavioral experiments to explore canine reward preferences.

“We are trying to understand the basis of the dog-human bond and whether it’s mainly about food, or about the relationship itself,” says Gregory Berns, a neuroscientist at Emory University.

“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.”

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 they are trained to associate a particular stimulus with food, they will salivate in the mere presence of the stimulus, in anticipation of the food.  Read full story….