It’s the most important time of year to make sure your dog can keep his eyes and head still while you feed him, according to a new study from the University of Wisconsin.
In a series of experiments, the researchers found that dogs that were trained to keep their eyes on the food and their head still were more likely to be rewarded when the food was given at the right time, and the reward was more satisfying.
The research is the first to link this behavior to the importance of time.
“It’s important to know what to look for in your dog’s behavior, particularly when you’re trying to understand the neural mechanisms of reward-seeking,” said Dr. Christopher P. J. Koehler, the study’s senior author and a UW doctoral student.
In one experiment, the dogs were rewarded when they were given the food at the same time that they had the food reward and when they had their reward delivered later in the process.
When the food went out after their reward, the dog didn’t receive the reward and instead got more food, while the reward wasn’t delivered as soon as the food had been delivered.
In another experiment, when the dogs had their food reward delivered while the food they had just received was still on the table, the reward-reward relationship didn’t change.
Instead, when a dog was given the reward after the food that was still present, he or she was rewarded more than when the reward had been delayed.
“The key is to get the reward delivered quickly,” Juhasz said.
“A reward that’s delivered in a short period of time, then the reward can be delivered and the brain is rewarded more quickly.”
To learn more about reward and its relationship to behavior, visit the American Academy of Veterinary Behaviorists website.
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