Daily News Roundup

October 3, 2019

American research has shown that food beats pats and praise when it comes to motivating your pet dog.
Image: The Honest Kitchen

THURSDAY, October 3

American research has shown that food beats pats and praise when it comes to motivating your pet dog.

Encouraging your dog with food rewards is the easiest and most effective way to train them say researchers.

“Using treats during training is the best way to guarantee that your dog will repeat the behaviour you want,” the American Kennel Club says.

Other methods don’t work as well, experts say, and can even harm your dog and the pet-owner relationship.

Erica Feuerbacher, an assistant professor in the Department of Animal and Poultry Science at Virginia Tech, did a study that compared a food reward to the reward of petting and praise.

Dogs were clear about what they preferred.

“They’ll work harder and respond faster for food than for social interaction,” she said.

Dogs do love to be with us, but our monkey chatter doesn’t mean that much to them; Feuerbacher has found that dogs will stay near a person who’s praising them for the same amount of time as if they’re being ignored.

And if you want your dog to obey just because they love you, get real, says Zazie Todd, author of the forthcoming book Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy.

“If only it was like that!” Todd said.

“If your boss stopped paying you, you’d probably stop going to work pretty quickly. You need to motivate your dog too.”

Dog trainers also talk about “life rewards” like getting to play or go for a walk. These can be useful, especially to maintain behaviours you’ve already trained, but are more complicated and take longer.

“For most everyday behaviours that ordinary people want to teach, food is quicker and easier,” Todd said.

“You want to find a trainer who’s using modern reward-based methods, and that means they’ll be using food to train a dog.”


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s long-awaited Brexit deal offer for the European Union ahead of the October 31 exit date, has received mixed reviews.

The proposed new  plan will leave Northern Ireland in a special relationship with Europe until 2025, the UK’s Telegraph newspaper reports.

The plan, which will be officially unveiled on Wednesday, means Northern Ireland will remain in large parts of the European Union single market until at least 2025 but the province will leave the EU customs union along with the rest of the UK, according to the report.

Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist party (DUP) is largely “content” with the proposals, the Guardian newspaper reported separately, adding that the plan is supported by DUP leader Arlene Foster.

However, EU member Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said the proposals would not provide the basis for a deal with the European Union and are “concerning.”

Johnson will unveil details of his final Brexit offer to the European Union on Wednesday and make clear that if Brussels does not engage with the proposal, Britain will not negotiate further and will leave on October 31.

He said the plan presents a reasonable compromise, and the alternative was no deal

Under his plan, the controversial Irish backstop would be replaced by an all-island regulatory zone, an effort to avoid a hard border between EU-member the Republic of Ireland and the UK’s Northern Ireland.

The plan would see Northern Ireland taken out of the EU’s customs union after the transition period, which would mean some checkpoints for goods travelling between the North and the Republic, but Mr Johnson said that could happen away from the Irish border.

“We are coming out of the EU on October 31, come what may,” Mr Johnson told party members on Wednesday as he addressed the Conservative Party conference in Manchester for the first time as prime minister.

“We are tabling what I believe are constructive and reasonable proposals which provide a compromise for both sides.

“I hope very much that our friends understand that and compromise in their turn.

“Let us be in no doubt that the alternative is no deal.”

In a letter Mr Johnson sent to European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, he said he wanted a deal that was in place by the European Council’s summit on October 17.

After a phone call with the British PM, Mr Juncker said the proposal included “positive advances” but that there were also “some problematic points” that will “need further work in the coming days”.

Mr Juncker said the “delicate balance” on the island achieved by the Good Friday Agreement that ended three decades of conflict must be preserved.


Mango lovers get ready. The mango season in the Northern Territory is well and truly firing with farms around Darwin’s rural area reaching their peak harvest period.

While some farms around Darwin began picking as early as July, production is expected to hit its peak next week with the NT season  set to yield 4 to 4.5 million trays of the delicious fruit. 

More than 200,000 trays were dispatched from the NT last week, but that will soon double as more farms ramp up and harvest gets underway in the Katherine region.

President of the NT Mango Industry Association, Leo Skliros, told ABC radio this year’s season had faced plenty of weather-related challenges, including a long run of cooler than average nights and a lot offruit lost to gusty winds and fire.

“The NT’s overall mango crop is going to be down on original forecasts,” he said.

“It’s probably going to be around 4 million to 4.5 million trays, which is still a lot of mangoes.

“It seems to be warming up now and at our place this afternoon it’ll hit 40 to 41 degrees, which is actually hotter than I would like.

“But that will start pushing the fruit along and I think towards the end of this week you’ll see most farms [around Darwin] getting into their main pick, and probably mid-next week hitting peak production.

“We’re starting to get a nice spread of mangoes, the fruit is nice and sweet, and it’s looking like being a fantastic season for growers and consumers.”

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