Just Pet Me! Why Your Dog Wishes You Would Stop Talking And Start Pett

Christina Peden
by Christina Peden
Scientists have discovered something many dog lovers may already know, at least intuitively: our canine companions prefer petting over vocal praise.

Two researchers from the University of Florida wondered which type of praise dogs would prefer, and whether it mattered who the petting or praise came from: their owner or a stranger. So, they devised a study to find out.

They tested three different sets of dogs for their experiment, alternating the type of praise given out in each session. Group 1 was made up of shelter dogs. Group 2 consisted of dogs who had owners but received their petting and praise from strangers. Group 3 was made up of dogs with their owners giving pets and praise. Then, the scientists measured how long the dogs stayed in close proximity to the humans based on the type of praise being given. The result? All of the dogs in every group stuck closer to the human test subjects when being petted; they all preferred petting over being given vocal praise.

The second part of the experiment placed the dogs into two groups: one consisting of shelter dogs and strangers and another consisting of dogs with their owners. This time, the dogs only received one kind of praise per session: either petting or vocal praise (or no interaction at all). Again, it didn’t matter whether they were a shelter or “owned” dog: all the pups stuck closer to the humans when the type of praise they received was petting, not words.

Somewhat surprisingly, the dogs hung around their human companions for the same amount of time when they received vocal praise versus when there was no interaction at all! Not only that, but the dogs had a seemingly endless appetite for petting. They never got sick of being pet, no matter how long the session or who was dishing it out. Basically, if your dog could talk, he or she would be screaming, “PET ME, HUMAN!!!” to you and everyone else.

Oddly enough, the same researchers did a previous study of dogs and determined that the only thing that motivates them more than petting is food. Dog parents everywhere are letting out a collectively sarcastic “No way! Are you serious?!

The moral of the story? When it comes to pooches, actions seem to speak louder than words. Feel free to issue all the “Good dogs!” you want, but make sure you add some behind-the-ear scratches to your repertoire, too. Or just ply them with treats. Your dog will thank you for it.

[Source: Discover Magazine]

Christina Peden
Christina Peden

Christina Peden is a lifelong animal lover and avid wordsmith. She lives in Toronto with her boyfriend Ryan where they are proud pet parents to puppy, Matilda and cat, Oscar. In her spare time, she can be found enjoying Toronto, Canada's all-too-short patio season, taking advantage of the city's numerous parks or curled up with a good book.

More by Christina Peden