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Dog Roundup

March 13, 2009

When training dogs, a new study reveals that you better use treats if you want tricks.


Does tough dog training work? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Some books and TV shows say that if your dog acts aggressively, you should show it who’s boss by staring it down, wrestle it into a submissive posture or even hitting it. The idea is to establish yourself as the alpha dog. But in the journal Applied Animal Behavioral Science, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania report that it doesn’t work. After a year-long study, they conclude that giving dogs rewards and extra exercise for good behaviors was effective, while tough tactics just made the dogs more aggressive.

In other canine research, an international team of scientists has found that black wolves arose only about ten thousand years ago. Genetic tests suggest they picked up the gene by mating with black dogs belonging to the first humans who settled in North America. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.