In our house - and on our dog's Instagram account (yes, that's right) we have a running joke about our dog not doing anything if TREATS aren't part of the bargain. Up the stairs - TREAT. Down the stairs - TREAT. Run - TREAT. Walk - TREAT. Eat (I know) - TREAT. Etc.

It's a joke because it's true. He actually has treats so often when he is leash walking, people assume he is training for some Homeland Security job and they give him his space to work.

That's why if our dog could read and debate the merits of scientific research, we're pretty sure he'd poo poo a report in an upcoming issue of Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience that argues your dog would rather have a "Good Boy!" and a pat on the head than a sweet potato chip.

The report, though, actually provides a positive message about using brain scans of dogs to understand what trips their cognitive trigger and it seems like happy social interaction tops the scales. Because that's so much healthier than eating all the time, and because keeping dogs at a healthy weight (especially labs like Tuggy) is integral to their health, this is great news.

Now we just have to convince Tuggy of the benefits of "positive social interaction" over TREATS. How we do that without Snausages**, I'll never know.

The report also points to the benefits of the brain scans in training therapy dogs because their social interaction, as part of their therapy work, can be its own reward.

Helping others, it seems, can be as rewarding for pups as it is for peeps.

(**We don't feed him those. He eats organic, healthy stuff, I swear. The name is just funny.)

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