dogs enjoy workAs an adult, you’ve probably experienced the satisfaction of a hard day’s work. It might come as a surprise, but you and Fido may not be so different after all! A recent study from Sweden revealed that dogs, too, enjoy earning their rewards. They just prefer peanut butter to a paycheck.

The Study

A study published in Animal Cognition supports the hypothesis that dogs get more excited for a reward that is earned.

In the study, a group of 12 beagles were trained to perform a variety of tasks and received a reward in the form of food, human contact, or play with another dog once they completed the task. A group of control dogs was also brought into the training room and rewarded with one of these items regardless of their behavior.

The study was able to demonstrate that dogs were more excited and less frustrated when they were performing tasks, rather than just receiving a random reward. They also showed a preference for food over the other rewards. Go figure!

Why Dogs Enjoy Work

From an evolutionary standpoint, enjoying a hard day’s work makes sense. Emotional arousal has been shown to aid in learning and boost memory, which may have some survival implications. For our housepets, though, this trait may not have such dramatic effects. The fact remains, however, that dogs enjoy work, and Oakland Veterinary Referral Services knows that a happy dog makes a happy home.

So how can you use this information to enrich your pet’s life? Here are some easy ideas to keep your canine companion satisfied:

  • Ask your dog to “sit” and “stay” when opening the door, releasing them on a command (this also prevents unwanted escapes).
  • Teach your pet to ring a bell to go outside.
  • Give a command before offering a treat.
  • Use a puzzle toy, such as a Buster Cube, to dispense your dog’s kibble rather than a bowl.
  • Hide your dog’s dinner in different places around the home to keep them guessing.

Making your dog do a little extra work helps provide the environmental enrichment that’s essential to every pet. It can also burn a few extra calories along the way. It’s a win-win!

At Oakland Veterinary Referral Services, we pride ourselves on helping every pet at our practice live a long, happy life. Please let us know if we can be of assistance in any way!