Why Do Dogs Need Praise?

Friday, April 29, 2022 10:30:00 AM America/Los_Angeles

Everyone loves a little praise, and dogs are definitely no exception! Recognizing your furry one not only acknowledges their good behavior, it also helps you bond with your pup. And is it any wonder? It’s impaw-sible not to feel close to someone who acknowledges your efforts and rewards it with love and affection. 

Photo by Marliese Streefland

Why Do Dogs Like Praise? 

Dogs enjoy praise for a number of reasons, but all of them are related to bonding with their humans. Whether it’s receiving recognition for a job well done or assurance about a training task, praise helps canines develop a trusting bond with their pawrent. 

However, as much as we hear about the importance of praise for dogs, not all canines may be equally receptive to praise. Praise is primarily associated with bonding, and if a certain dog doesn’t necessarily feel tied to the human dishing out praise, then the praise may have little effect. On the flip side, a pooch who is heavily invested in their relationship to a human may feel strongly encouraged by the praise given. 

When Should Dogs Be Praised?

Praise is typically given after accomplishing a task successfully. Whether it’s during potty training or play time, praise helps reinforce appropriate behavior. It’s important to hold off on praise until the task at hand has been successfully achieved. It can feel mean to hold back praise, but it helps prevent confusion for your dog. The exception would be if you notice consistent effort towards a task. 

One example is a common mistake that happens during potty training. Praise is probably not the appropriate response if a dog goes pee on your favorite rug. But if they march to the pee pad but happen to miss the mark, then praise is due. The behavior was appropriate (knowing that the pet potty is the place to “go”) and an effort was made (squatting on the wee wee pad). Aiming correctly is just a matter of practice, so you want to give praise to encourage the behavior. Follow up with a tasty treat for behavior that you really want to support! 

Do Dogs Prefer Praise or Treats? 

There’s no doubt that doggos love a yummy treat. But did you know that dogs actually prefer praise over treats? Studies have shown that our furry companions actually prefer being praised because of the investment in their relationship with us. 

Of course, your dog probably won’t complain if praise is accompanied by a reward! Wondering what to look for in a training treat? Check out our post on what makes a good training treat here