Thursday, 24 May 2018

You ain't nothin' but a hound dog

We all love our creature comforts. They can help us to unwind after a long day, and make us feel content. And the same goes for dogs! 

The living quarters of Madrid's 22-strong Police dog force underwent a renovation earlier this year, in order to reduce stress and improve the overall health of these hard-working pups. The new kennels include a patio where they can lie in the shade during the summer months, a green play zone, and heated beds – which a council spokesman said will help to reduce energy bills by 80%. The dogs will also be treated to music therapy sessions, where they will be played Mozart. 

Photo credit: Andrew Winning/Reuters from The Guardian

It has been shown in a number of studies that playing classical music to dogs can help lower their stress levels. A study conducted by the Scottish SPCA back in 2015 showed that a dog's stress levels significantly decreased after hearing classical music. This non-invasive research was conducted in its own kennels, where they monitored the dogs' heart rates, collected saliva samples, and monitored their behaviour over a week. Although this study yielded positive results initially, at the end of the week, the dogs' heart rates and behaviours associated with kennel stress had returned to normal, as they had become accustomed to the classical music.

A further study in 2017, also by the Scottish SPCA, and the University of Glasgow, looked at the effects that different genres of music had when played to dogs. Professor Neil Evans said of the research;

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

Combined, these two research projects have helped to highlight the importance of music in order to help the dogs in its care feel as relaxed as they can. Having shown that the key is to avoid habituation, the Scottish SPCA will be investing in sound systems for all of its kennels – much like the Spanish Police force.

With the amount of hard work that police dogs undertake, not to mention how long some pups are kept in kennels whilst they wait for their new forever home, it's no wonder that our canine companions like to let there fur down to some music!

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