Incentive motivation in pet dogs - preference for constant vs varied food rewards.

Bremhorst, Annika; Bütler, Sarah; Würbel, Hanno; Riemer, Stefanie (2018). Incentive motivation in pet dogs - preference for constant vs varied food rewards. Scientific Reports, 8(1), p. 9756. Nature Publishing Group 10.1038/s41598-018-28079-5

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Recently, there has been a move towards positive reinforcement using food rewards in animal training. By definition, rewards function as reinforcers if they increase or maintain the frequency of behaviour that they follow. However, in operant conditioning tasks animals frequently show systematic changes in performance - in particular a reduction in responding over time. One suggested strategy to avoid such performance decrements is to provide a variety of food rewards, rather than the same food reward in all trials. The enhancement of appetitive behaviour and consumption by reward variation is referred to as 'variety effect'. We investigated whether dogs preferred a variable or a constant food reward in a concurrent two-choice test. Of 16 dogs, six subjects showed a significant preference for the varied food reward and six for the constant food reward, while four dogs exhibited no significant preference for either option. At the group level, there was a significant effect of block: preference for the varied food reward increased across six blocks of ten trials each. Thus, although some individuals may prefer a single, favourite food reward in the short term, introducing variation in reward types may maintain dogs' motivation in operant tasks over a longer time period.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH) > Veterinary Public Health Institute > Animal Welfare Division
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH) > Veterinary Public Health Institute
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH)

Graduate School:

Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences (GCB)

UniBE Contributor:

Würbel, Hanno and Riemer, Stefanie

Subjects:

600 Technology > 630 Agriculture

ISSN:

2045-2322

Publisher:

Nature Publishing Group

Language:

English

Submitter:

Lilian Karin Smith-Wirth

Date Deposited:

27 Mar 2019 10:49

Last Modified:

22 Oct 2019 21:39

Publisher DOI:

10.1038/s41598-018-28079-5

PubMed ID:

29950698

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.125155

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/125155

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