There are many things that can drive your dog to experience anxiety. Sometimes, it’s separation anxiety when you leave for long days in the office and your pup realizes it’s at home alone for far too long. Other times you may be leaving town, decide to get a dog sitter, and your pet doesn’t like its temporary accommodations. Or maybe it’s the Fourth of July and all those fireworks and unusual commotion are just driving them crazy. They start stirring around the house, barking uncontrollably, hide in a corner, or maybe just start destroying anything they can get their paws on, leaving a trail of wreckage behind. No matter the cause, watching your dog experience anxiety and not knowing how to calm them can be a painful experience for any dog lover.
It’s true that music has the ability to soothe a dog just like it would a person. And no person is a stranger to putting on some headphones when they’re stressed and letting a certain favorite comfort them. Now, if you had to guess which music genre is most effective at this for dogs, which would you choose? Classical symphonies? Jazz? Would it be one of those soothing sounds of nature soundtracks you hear when you go for a relaxing day at the spa? It turns out there’s actually a study that found the answer to this question.
A study conducted by the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) observed the behavior of kennelled dogs in 2017. “Classical music has been shown to reduce stress in kennelled dogs,” they write in the Journal of Physiology and Behavior. “However, rapid habituation of dogs to this form of auditory enrichment has also been demonstrated. The current study investigated the physiological and behavioural response of kennelled dogs with five different genres of music including Soft Rock, Motown, Pop, Reggae and Classical, to determine whether increasing the variety of auditory stimulation reduces the level of habituation to auditory enrichment.”
Of the five genres, it turns out reggae and soft rock actually has the most calming effect on anxious or potentially anxious dogs. They did this by turning on six-hour playlists for the shelter dogs taking note of things like heart rate, cortisol levels and behaviors that measure stress levels, like barking or lying down. “Overall, the response to different genres was mixed highlighting the possibility that like humans, our canine friends have their own individual music preferences,” study co-author study Neil Evans said. “That being said, reggae music and soft rock showed the highest positive changes in behavior.”
A previous study had suggested that classical music was actually the most effective in calming dogs in kennels. But what that study also found was that while classical music was calming at the beginning of the seven-day research period, dogs gradually went back to their anxious and unhappy behavior by the end of the seventh day.
Sources:Effect of different genres of music on the stress levels of kennelled dogs
The Science Behind Calming Dogs With Sound
Calming Your Nervous Dog: A Complete Overview