Q: Did you see dogs prefer reggae and soft rock?
A: Not rap?
Q: Rap? You mean because of the human voices? Or because of Snoop Dogg?
A: Um. Yes. Voices. Definitely the voices thing. Wouldn’t dream of the horrible pun.
Q: Anyway, how did they find out what sort of music the dogs liked? Did they give them buttons to push, like those experiments with rats?
Q: Did they see which speaker the dogs liked to sit near?
Q: Can you work with me here?
A: They measured how relaxed the dogs were, by heart rate and whether they were lying down, and whether they were barking.
Q: The music they ‘liked most’ was really the music that made them lie down quietly and relax?
Q: Have these people ever been teenagers?
Q: That would be the research paper that none of the stories linked, and most of them didn’t even hint at the existence of?
A: Yes, that one.
Q: So what were they really looking at?
A: The Scottish SPCA wants dogs to be quiet and relaxed (and presumptively happy) in the kennels, while they’re waiting to find a new home.
Q: And soft rock and reggae were more relaxing than rap or thrash metal?
A: They didn’t look at all musical genres, just a few. The dogs got a week of no music and a week with a different style each day (in random order, with music from Spotify).
Q: Soft rock and reggae were better than the other ones?
A: Well, Motown seemed to increase heart rate rather than decrease it, but the others were all pretty much the same.
Q: The others?
A: Soft Rock, Reggae, Pop, Classical, Silence
Q: Wait, what? “Silence”?
A: Yes, a day of no music was about as good as a day of relaxing music. It looks like variety might be the key. The researchers say
Interestingly, the physiological and behavioural changes observed in this study were maintained over the 5d of auditory stimulation, suggesting that providing a variety of different genres may help minimise habituation to auditory enrichment
Q: So what they really found is that playing dogs a variety of music relaxes them
A: Yes, but that’s not such a good headline.