New research explains how important our encouragement is to our pets. Nine dogs were able to complete the task better because they got some assistance from their owner.
Humans or pet owners who shower their dogs with encouragement can boost their dog’s ability to solve problems, experts from the Oregon State University learned in this new study. The researchers, led by Lauren Brubaker, analyzed the behavior of two groups of dogs.
One group had 31 domestic pets, while another group composed of 28 dogs were from a search and rescue team. The results of the study were published in the Applied Animal Behaviour Science journal.
Search and Rescue Dogs vs. Pet Dogs
“While most dogs increase the amount of time they spend attending to the puzzle when encouraged, pet dogs often end up treating the puzzle like a toy. Instead of engaging in goal directed behavior, they act as if their owner was encouraging them to play.”
The dogs of varied breeds were given the same task in the same time frame to measure their approach to a problem. Specifically, they were asked to open a box with a sausage inside in under two minutes.
The researchers wanted to compare the behavior of search and rescue dogs to pet dogs with the knowledge that the first group had the training to work independently. Though search and rescue dogs have handlers, the general idea is that they can provide assistance in emergency situations without any prodding from a human.
The group of pet dogs, on the other hand, was randomly selected from a 2015 data.
Solving the Puzzle
The experiment was done in phases but the owners first showed the dogs they placed a sausage in the box. The first part had the dogs working on the puzzle alone. The second part, called the…