Can music help your dog calm down? Results from another study indicate that yes, indeed, it can–unless you enjoy listening to head-banger tunes, that is. In this most recent study, dogs were less stressed when listening to music, and reggae and soft rock in particular triggered positive reactions.
These findings can make life a lot less stressful for dogs in shelters and even for those dogs with homes who experience separation anxiety when their humans leave them alone for the day.
So, ya mon, why not find your local reggae station and set your dog fren’ up with some island off-beats before leaving for work tomorrow?
In a study conducted with the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, researchers at the University of Glasgow played six-hour Spotify playlists from five genres of music to shelter dogs. On one day, the dogs heard classical; on others they grooved to soft rock, reggae, pop and Motown. The researchers recorded the dogs’ heart rate variability, their cortisol levels and behaviors like barking and lying down — all measures of stress levels — as they listened to the tunes, as well as on days when no music was played.
The dogs were generally “less stressed” when they heard music, and they showed a slight preference for reggae and soft rock…
…the results make a strong case for the use of music as a calming technique in shelter settings…That’s important because animal shelters, with all their noise and unfamiliarity, can be scary for dogs. And stress can cause dogs to cower, bark loudly, shake or otherwise behave in ways that make them less likely to be adopted…
The study, published in the journal Physiology and Behavior, built on previous research by the same team that found shelter dogs hearing classical music bark less and lie down more, signs of relaxation. But by the seventh day of classical, the benefits to the dogs in that study had worn off, indicating that “the animals were getting habituated with the music, or possibly getting bored.” That’s what led the researchers to try the varied genres.
Previous studies have found that music can benefit other species, including captive elephants and dairy cows. Other research involving kenneled dogs supports the chill factor of classical and suggests they are not fans of heavy metal, which seems to induce body shaking in pooches. Shelter dogs also appear to find audiobooks soothing.