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Owners Frequently Report that They Reward Behaviors of Dogs by Petting and Praising, Especially When Dogs Respond Correctly to Commands and Play with Their Toys

By Alexandre P. Rossi, Caroline M. Maia

Category Journal Articles
Abstract

We characterized the reward patterns of dogs’ owners for the expression of desired behaviors of their pets through a questionnaire made available online on a social media page for 7 days (responses from over 66,676 owners). The questions were related to the type and frequency of rewards that pet owners applied and what specific dogs’ behaviors were rewarded. Desired behaviors of dogs were frequently reported to be rewarded. Responding correctly to commands and playing with their own toys were behaviors reported to be rewarded more frequently by owners than eliminating in appropriate places, a behavior perceived commonly just later. Moreover, owners reported that they rewarded more frequently by petting and praising the dogs and less frequently by applying a combination of giving both food and toys to their dogs. Thus, dog owners commonly reward desired behaviors by petting and prasing the dogs, most likely because it is the most convenient reward to use. Moreover, rewarding is more common when dogs express desired behaviors more immediately perceived by owners, which has welfare implications for these companion animals.

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 23
Issue 4
Pages 402-409
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
DOI 10.1080/10888705.2019.1709067
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Tags
  1. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  2. Domestic animals
  3. owners
  4. Pets and companion animals
  5. rewards