Music has some pretty significant stress-relieving effects on humans, and it turns out that the benefits extend to our canine companions as well.
The University of Glasgow partnered with the Scottish SPCA on a study that examined how the catchy rhythms and chill beats of five different music genres affected dogs’ moods. Apparently, dogs really dig soft rock and reggae music.
Researchers visited a kennel and exposed the dogs to pop, Motown, soft rock, reggae and classical music. As each genre played fairly consistently over the course of several days, the researchers observed the dogs’ physiology and behavior and looked for any changes that might suggest a calmer state.
Physiological and behavioral changes that indicated calmness included a lower heart rate, lying down, sleeping, minimal barking and minimal jumping. There were certainly some mixed results, suggesting that just like humans, dogs may have their own personal tastes in music.
Regardless of which genre played, the dogs seemed to spend more time lying down. When the music was turned off, the researchers determined that the dogs were 142 times more likely to bark more.
The most positive changes were observed when the dogs were exposed to soft rock and reggae — both of which helped lower the dogs’ heart rates. Therefore, these two genres may be most helpful in reducing canine stress levels.
The researchers say that these findings can help kennels develop playlists with dog-friendly tracks to keep them calm.
Dog owners may even be able to help their four-legged friends out at home by turning on some music to minimize anxiety. When dog owners leave their homes, when there’s a thunderstorm, or when household stress is high, leaving the radio on a soft rock or reggae station might just be enough to help Fido feel a little more at ease.
Not much of a fan of soft rock or reggae yourself? Don’t worry — classical music is another option.
Previous research by the same group revealed positive behavioral changes when dogs were exposed to classical music. However, the study was a little more limited since the music exposure was short — about an hour or so. The more recent observations that involved five genres of music were conducted over a longer period — about a week for each genre.
It’s not clear whether specific breeds prefer certain artists or elements of sound, but researchers are working on finding out more. Animal behavioralists now hope to break down the various components of music genres to see how they affect dogs.
Many dog owners know their dogs so well that they can tell when they’re stressed out. For others, however, it can be trickier. Here are some important signs of stress in dogs to watch out for.
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