The Most Soothing Music for Dogs Is NOT Classical

Helping your canine friend unwind begins with what you're listening to on the radio.

The next time your pup starts to pant and pace during a thunderstorm or you have to leave for a day and you know separation anxiety is about to ensue, consider turning on some music. But not just any music…according to a new study published in the journal of Physiology and Behavior, dogs prefer the sounds of reggae or soft rock more than any other genre.

For the study, conducted by the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), researchers with the University of Glasgow turned on six-hour playlists of five different genres of music for shelter dogs. During the duration of the study, the dogs heard classical, soft rock, reggae, pop and Motown. While the dogs were listening, researchers took note of their heart rate, cortisol levels and behaviors that measure stress levels, like barking or lying down.

Tatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, shutterstock

It turns out that dogs are fans of chilling out to Bob Marley, just like we do on our beach vacations, as results showed that dogs were less stressed while listening to soft rock or reggae. When listening to Motown, their stress levels were higher, study co-author Neil Evans told the Washington Post.

“Overall, the response to different genres was mixed highlighting the possibility that like humans, our canine friends have their own individual music preferences,” Evans said. “That being said, reggae music and soft rock showed the highest positive changes in behavior.”

Based on the results of the study, Evans and his team believe that shelters and dog owners alike would benefit from playing reggae or soft rock music for their canines during high stress situations. For animals entering a shelter for the first time, the new surroundings can be scary, leading to barking, shaking or cowering, and dogs living in home can be fearful of loud noises or when their owners leave. Here are some ways to decipher if your pet is sick, instead of stressed.

This latest research dates back to previous findings that discovered shelter dogs that listen to classical music were more relaxed, barking less and lying down more. Unfortunately, the study also found that by the seventh day of listening to classical music, the dogs returned to restlessness, leading researchers including Evans to believe that “the animals were getting habituated with the music, or possibly getting bored.” Those previous results are what led the researchers to try varied genres for the new study.

Two Scottish SPCA shelters are taking note of the study and will begin playing music in their shelters, allowing their dogs to reap the relaxing benefits.

While reggae and soft rock might be good for Fido, the study authors have yet to determine if felines enjoy the same sounds. In the meantime, you can brush up on what your cat is trying to tell you.

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