Dogs that listen to classical music
Cows produce more milk if they listen to music. It sounds like an urban legend but some studies confirm this. Music seems to have an effect on the physiology and behaviour of animals and several studies have already begun to explore such effects in birds, fish, primates, elephants, cows, horses and dogs.
We know well the effects of certain types of music on our mood and behaviour. Classical music reduces anxiety, improves your mood, reduces blood pressure and heart rate, favours sleep, reduces the perception of pain, increases tolerance to unpleasant manipulation, and in general, acts as a moderator in response to stress. On the other hand, grunge music can cause hostility, sadness, tiredness and reduces mental clarity. ¿And in dogs? ¿What effect does music have? ¿Can music be used to regulate their mood?
Studies carried out in kennels suggest that classical music calms dogs down, and in response to this type of acoustic stimulation, they bark less and sleep more than usual. But this effect is not generally applied to any piece of classical music or to any type of music. For example, their response to heavy metal music is completely different. Animals get excited and react as if they were in a stressful situation: they shake themselves more than usual, they sleep less, they spend most of the time standing and they bark more.
The mechanisms responsible for these effects are still unknown. In the case of classical music, there is a hypothesis that it could be the effect of masking unpleasant sounds in the environment or some specific mechanism that has not yet been identified. It is true that there is an effect, and that in the case of relaxation produced by listening to some types of music, this effect can be beneficial for the well-being of the individual.
This premise suggests that music, especially classical music, could be used as tool to regulate the mood of our pets and enrich their life environment. We still need to find out which are the technical features of the pieces of music (for example, the rhythm or the melody) that are responsible for this effect on the animal's behaviour. Moreover, it is important to bear in mind that an excessive use of music could be more harmful than beneficial, as a noisy environment can be very stressful for many animals. In this case, to improve the well-being of the animal, reducing the environmental noise could be more effective than being exposed to relaxing music. Some researchers suggest that providing the animals with control on their exposure to music could be a way to solve this problem and they could use this means of environmental enrichment. In other words, we should teach dogs to turn the music system on and off so that they can decide when they want to listen to music.
Music is still used very little to regulate the mood of our dogs, but the prospects seem interesting, and meanwhile scientific investigations seek more information on how to use music to improve our pets' lives.