Play That Funky Music…
On second thought – don’t.
A new study was recently published focusing on music for kenneled dogs. The study was conducted by a group (Kogan, Schoenfeld-Tacher, Simon) at Colorado State University’s Clinical Sciences department, and was published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior. They studied the behavioral effects of 3 music types on kenneled dogs in a boarding facility: Classical (Beethoven, Strauss and Bach), Heavy Metal (Motorhead, Slayer and Judas Priest) and Psychoacoustically Designed (music to calm your canine companion – specifically designed to calm the dog). They exposed the dogs to each of the pieces of music (each exposure lasted 45 minutes, followed by 15 minutes of silence). Dogs were observed and behaviors were recorded every 5 minutes over the course of each exposure. What they found was quite interesting!
An earlier piece of research by Wells et al (Animal Welfare, 2002) found that classical music can have a positive impact on kenneled dogs. This study supports that finding as well. They found that dogs were more likely to be sleeping when the classical music was playing than when either the psychoacoustic music was playing or the heavy metal. There was no difference in sleep between the classical music selections (dogs were just as likely to sleep with Beethoven as they were to Strauss), but they were more likely to sleep with the classical than the other music types. It is of note that the music specifically designed to relax the dogs (the psychoacoustic music) was not as impactful on sleep behavior as the classical selections.
When it came to vocalizations, the sonata wins. Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” was the piece that resulted in the least vocalizations. I am quiet when I listen to that piece as well!
The most interesting result is that the dogs were most likely to be observed shaking when listening to the heavy metal. So while listening to classical music appears to have a potentially relaxing effect, the heavy metal seems to have an opposite effect. I would say this study gives the best evidence to date that minimally heavy metal (and until we see evidence to the contrary, all rock, hip hop, etc.) be banned from the animal areas of the shelter.
Music impacts humans, too. There are plenty of studies showing music to be a mood regulator for humans. There are studies showing decreases in anxiety, blood pressure and heart rate, increased tolerance for painful or uncomfortable procedures and more. In fact, there are even studies showing that folks who are impacted with slow-paced music while shopping will shop more! And the researchers point to a study that found uplifting music can positively impact helping behaviors!
It is important to note that the impact of music can be affected by the ambient background noise of the shelter – and more data is needed to show if music can have the same effect in a very noisy shelter. Also – remember that the music should not be a constant – but instead be used during open to public hours only to best impact both the human and non-human animals.
Save on (but don’t rock on)!!