Might Marley and me really be about something else? It turns out that lots of dogs actually prefer reggae music, according to new study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior from researchers with the Scottish SPCA and the University of Glasgow. The shelter dogs participating in the study also liked soft rock, so they have varied tastes, though apparently Bob Marley is preferred by most to Karen Carpenter.
The dogs wore heart monitors while listening to different music styles, also including Motown, pop and classical.
“Overall, the response to different genres was mixed highlighting the possibility that like humans, our canine friends have their own individual music preferences,” University of Glasgow professor Neil Evans said in the release. “That being said, reggae music and soft rock showed the highest positive changes in behavior.”
Evans says the results make a good case for piping in music into animal shelters, which can be stressful and scary. Perhaps the best news coming out of the study is that the Scottish SPCA is using its findings as an impetus to put sound systems into all of its kennels, stocked with a dog-friendly playlist.
Most early studies about dogs and music suggested that dogs are pretty much indifferent, that was unless the music was so loud that it no doubt bothered dogs’ ears.
Along came studies in the 1990’s of shelter animals and they seems to relax a bit with the right tunes. Research led to “Though a Dog’s Ear”/”Through a Cats’s Ear” and support for the notion that the right music helps to soothe anxious pets.
According to their research dogs and cats appreciate a more simple music with lots of piano, ad they were there toward the beginning of CD to purchase to play for pets. And the idea of even using music as a tool to help calm anxious dogs and cats.
In 2009, the researchers composed two songs for tamarins — monkeys with vocalizations three octaves higher than our own and heart rates twice as fast. The songs sound shrill and unpleasant to us, but they seemed to be music to the monkeys’ ears. The song modeled on excited monkey tones and set to a fast tempo made the tamarins visibly agitated and active. By contrast, they calmed down and became unusually social in response to a “tamarin ballad,” which incorporated happy monkey tones and a slower tempo.
According to an study published in 2012 in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, lead author Lori Kogan of Colorado State University found that Mozart (and other classical composers) was more to the liking of dogs.
The study also found that classical music was more soothing than “psychoacoustic” music or specially-made Pet CDs that were designed to calm animals.
The latest research follows a 2015 study by the same institutions that found classical music had a calming effect on dogs. One group of dogs was observed in silence for a week while another had classical music played into their kennels. The conditions were then switched in the second week and results showed that in both groups the dogs’ stress levels decreased significantly after listening to music.
Others continue to suggest, that music does nothing, no matter what the genre is pets just consider even the most soulful and heartfelt tunes the same as a car horn or kids playing ball across the street – nothing more than background noise. Others suggest that we don’t even quite understand the affects of music on people. Studies with people suffering from dementia, has shown that music may “awaken the brain.” And sometimes people who can’t recall their names remember lyrics of songs of long ago.
So do some dogs just want to hear Ziggy? Maybe man. Or is their preference the “Sounds of Silence,” the musicians who recorded the song, Simon and Garfunkel. Or maybe they prefer silence.