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What does a dog want more — “good boy” or treats?

According to the study, published online in the journal Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, more dogs prefer praise over food. The finding by Emory University neuroscientist Gregory Berns followed a novel method of investigation: He used an MRI to scan a dog’s brain while the dog was awake and unrestrained.

What does a dog want more â "good boy" or treats? - The Washington Post

New research shows that most dogs prefer praise over food, but not Ozzie. The short-haired terrier mix was the only dog in the experiments to choose food. (Courtesy of Gregory Berns)

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Berns selected dogs that would lie still for 30 minutes while awake and with the MRI running. High-energy canines didn’t make the cut; couch potatoes did.

“These are not super-athletic, high-drive dogs,” he said. “Lots of retrievers.”

He and his team conducted a trio of experiments with about 15 dogs scanned each time. Every dog had to go into the MRI and stay in a down position for three, 10-minute scans.

I think humans prefer praise over food, too.

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