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Musical Dogs: A Review of the Influence of Auditory Enrichment on Canine Health and Behavior

1
Sydney School of Veterinary Science, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
2
School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Charles Perkins Centre, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(1), 127; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10010127
Received: 10 December 2019 / Revised: 20 December 2019 / Accepted: 8 January 2020 / Published: 13 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Companion Animals)
Interest in the use of music therapy as a behavioral enrichment tool in veterinary medicine is growing. Indeed, an industry has formed around the development of ‘dog music’, which has been purposely designed to relax dogs. Despite enthusiastic uptake of the idea, there is little empirical evidence supporting the design of such tools. This article summarizes the scientific literature in this emerging domain. It notes that, as a general observation, animals appear less stressed or anxious when exposed to classical music than to control conditions. It also acknowledges that this field is relatively under-researched, and more rigorous studies must be conducted before species-specific recommendations can be made. Such studies must reflect individuals’ and species’ preferences for different genres and songs, taking care to avoid habituation.
Music therapy yields many positive health outcomes in humans, but the effects of music on the health and welfare of nonhuman animals vary greatly with the type of music played, the ethology of the species, and the personality and learning history of individual animals. One context in which music therapy may be used to enhance animal welfare is to alleviate stress in domestic environments. Here, we review studies of the effects of music exposure on dogs as a case study for the implementation of music therapy in veterinary medicine. Nine reports of experimental testing for the therapeutic effects of music on dogs were found, with most of these studies focusing on changes in behavior. Overall, exposure to classical music appears to have a calming influence on dogs in stressful environments, with no additional benefit observed from any music purposely designed for dogs (specifically “Through a dog’s ear”). Given the cost effectiveness and ease of implementation, music therapy holds promise in veterinary medicine and animal welfare. However, to address precise research questions, further studies must use clearly defined characteristics of stimulus music in the experimental design, and consider the variability of each individual animal’s physical characteristics and past experience in the selection of candidates. View Full-Text
Keywords: dog; shelter; enrichment; classical music; stress; music therapy; behaviour dog; shelter; enrichment; classical music; stress; music therapy; behaviour
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Lindig, A.M.; McGreevy, P.D.; Crean, A.J. Musical Dogs: A Review of the Influence of Auditory Enrichment on Canine Health and Behavior. Animals 2020, 10, 127.

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