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Food, Petting or Praise : Which Does Your Dog Prefer?

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  • A 2014 study suggests treats are more effective than other types of rewards when you’re training your dog, especially when you need him to learn a behavior quickly
  • A 2016 study of 15 dogs using an fMRI scanner indicated that most of the dogs responded to both praise and treats equally, which suggests you can alternate between praise and treats during training sessions
  • A third study showed that dogs prefer petting to praise, so this is yet another way to mix things up when training your dog to keep her mentally stimulated
  • When you use training treats, be sure they don’t account for more than 10% to 15% of your dog’s daily food intake; it’s best to use fresh human foods or species-appropriate homemade treats


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