‘Shut up and pet me!’

April 05, 2017

A study has apparently proven that dogs would prefer that humans would just shut the heck up, and get down to petting them on their furry soft little heads, behind their ears, or oh my, on their cute little tummies.

The research, which was co-authored by Dr. Erica Feuerbacher of the University of Florida and Dr. Clive Wynne of Arizona State University, found that dogs preferred petting to vocal praise, whether it came from the dog’s owner or a stranger. The study also found that dogs will only respond to vocal praise if it comes from an owner they are very familiar with.

The study also found — no surprise here — that dogs never get tired of being petted.

In discussing their findings, the scientists used science-speak: “Overall, petting seems to be an important interaction between dogs and humans that maintain inter-specific social behavior, but vocal praise likely has been specially conditioned.”

The research, actually entitled: “Shut up and pet me! Domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) prefer petting to vocal praise in concurrent and single-alternative choice procedures,” assessed dogs’ preference for petting or vocal praise in shelter dogs, owned dogs with strangers providing both interactions, and owned dogs with the dog’s owner providing the interactions. Across all experimental groups, dogs preferred petting to vocal praise, the researchers said.

The current research is a follow-up to an earlier study by the same authors that showed that dogs prefer food to petting.

So, if you wish to make your dog happy, here is what science has shown your dog actually wants from you, in order:

  1. Food

  2. Petting

  3. Whatever nice thing you think you have to say