Everyone knows dog is man's best friend. But the relationship between us and our four-footed companions could be even more special than we thought, according to an American study published on August 12 in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience...
The study reveals that most dogs prefer cuddles from their master to food. At least, that's what they concluded from the experiment on 15 dogs and their respective humans.
How did scientists come to this surprising conclusion?
The researchers used a process of association. They first showed the dogs a toy car, then gave them some hot dog. For the second association, they showed the dogs a different toy, a horse, and afterwards the dogs were allowed to be petted by their owners for a few seconds.
Once they were certain that the dogs had understood the two associations, the researchers used an MRI scan to analyse their brain activity during the process.
Though 9 out of the 15 dogs reacted in the same way to the two associations, for 4 dogs, the area of the brain linked to reward was more stimulated when being petted by their master. Only 2 dogs preferred the hot dog.In a second test, the dogs were put in a maze in a Y-shaped maze. The researchers put a bowl containing food at one end of the maze.Their respective owners stayed at the other end of the maze. Again, most dogs chose their respective humans.
The experiment confirms the social personality of dogs, who favour human interaction to food. According to the researchers, the pups who chose the hot dog would make excellent rescue dogs while the others could be very useful in zootherapy courses.