Decision making is hard. Sometimes I have a half hour free and I waste the whole time just trying to pick what I’m gonna watch on Netflix. Ugh, does it count as binge-watching if you’re only binge-scrolling?
As it turns out, decision making can get exhausting for your dog too. A study at the University of Kentucky revealed that, when it comes to the effort involved in making a decision, you and your dog aren’t so different.
The study examined dogs in pairs. In each pair, one dog was allowed to rest for ten minutes. The other, meanwhile, was given orders to “stay,” and had to sit still for the full ten minutes. After this ten minute period, the dogs were each given a Tug-a-Jug toy, which is kinda like an all-in-one logic puzzle and treat dispenser.
The study found that the resting dogs spent nearly three times as much time playing than the “stay” dogs. This strongly suggests that the “stay” dogs had been mentally exhausted by the simple task of holding themselves to a strict command for ten minutes.
So it turns out that dogs, just like their humans, can get exhausted just by having to commit to a decision.
But there’s a catch! There’s one more way dogs and humans are just alike on this issue- and it starts with the magic substance called glucose. Glucose, or blood sugar, is the primary source of your body’s energy.
In a second experiment, which built on the “stay” and “rest” structure of the first experiment, researchers added one more variable. This time, after ten minutes of obedience, the “stay” dogs were offered a glucose drink. The glucose boost gave the dogs a fresh surge of mental energy, and they played with the Tug-a-Jug just as long as the “rest” dogs.
Glucose has long been suspected as being the key ingredient for a human’s mental functioning, decision making, and willpower. And it turns out that our dog’s brains work the same way.
So if your dog starts getting disobedient or sluggish after you’ve given them a string of commands, go easy on ’em. Maybe your pup just needs a break, or a little dog-friendly sweet treat.
HEY! I said a little!