It turns out your furry friends will take a good ear scratching over a “good boy” said in a singsong voice any day.
A study published in the journal Behavioral Processes, which analyzed dogs’ reactions to petting vs. vocal praise, found verbal affirmation had almost no impact on the pups.
“We focused here on dogs’ preference for petting and vocal praise, and the influence that familiarity (owner vs. stranger) has on that preference,” the study authors wrote in the report that holds “Shut up and pet me!” as part of its title.
The dogs’ preferences were measured by the amount of time they remained and interacted with a person. The reaction of shelter dogs, owned dogs interacting with strangers and owned dogs interacting with their masters were all analyzed.
“Across all experimental groups, dogs preferred petting to vocal praise,” the authors wrote.
They added the reaction of the dog to vocal praise was similar to the reaction if the person didn’t interact with them at all.
Dogs appeared to never tire of begin petted at any point during the sessions either.
“Overall, petting seems to be an important interaction between dogs and humans that might maintain inter-specific social behavior but vocal praise likely has to be specifically conditioned,” the authors wrote.
These same study authors published another report earlier this year that found dogs prefer food over petting.
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