Science says stressed out dogs don't like reggae. They love it.
The next time your favourite fur person is acting up, you may want to save the finger-wagging rebukes of "bad dog" and throw on some Bob Marley instead.
A recent study conducted by the University of Glasgow showed undeniable links between various types of music and the stress levels that dictate unruly behaviour in kenneled dogs. The research, carried out at the Scottish SPCA, brings excellent news for puppies and potential pet adopters. Why? Calmer animals get taken home more often.
"We were keen to explore the effect playing different genres of music had, and it was clear that the physiological and behavioural changes observed were maintained during the trial when the dogs were exposed to a variety of music" said Amy Brown, a PhD study involved in the study. She also confirmed that the trials were conclusive: "music has an effect on a dog's behaviour". And that effect was positive.
As the dogs wore small heart monitors (sidebar: adorable), everything from pop to Motown to classical was played for them. But when reggae came on it was the clear canine choice. Actually, soft rock also did well. Huh. Maybe just ask your mom what she's been listening to when you want your dog to behave?
Professor Neil Evans says the research showed that dogs, "like humans", appear to "have their own own individual music preferences". So, your dog could be more into Shabba Ranks than, say, UB40. Just a heads up. Evans added that the "response to different genres was mixed" but in the end the heavy bass of reggae seemed to do the trick. He was unclear if reggae, whose heavily-charged social and political themes which grew out of 1960s Jamaica resonated with canine socio-political leanings or if puppers just like a nice bass line.
The ultimate result of the study is a happy one: the Scottish SPCA will have a better sound system than you before long. They're splurging for decent audio electronics for all their kennels. The end goal is to have speakers piping Trenchtown Rock, or some other calming musical equivalent, into every animal welfare shelter they manage with further research extending to the musical tastes of other animals as well. Managing stress levels is crucial for all sentient creatures, bipeds and quadrupeds alike. Specially those in tight quarters. Maybe go put on some reggae to enjoy with your house hound. My suggestion? Shaggy.
If you lean more feline than canine, note that various musical offerings made to cats, were not, as I'd have guessed, met with stone-faced apathy. In fact, cats like species-specific tones.
A past study published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science says that music is more likely to be "appreciated" by animals when it closely resembles the cadence and rhythmic vocalizations of their own organic communication. Charles Snowdon and Megan Savage, who wrote the study, say "we have developed a theoretical framework that hypothesizes that in order for music to be effective with other species, it must be in the frequency range and with similar tempos to those used in natural communication by each species". In short, animals like music that mirrors various elements of their "speech". Pretty cool. It's true for us so why shouldn't it be true for all animals. Gerbils could like death metal. Chinchillas might relax to acid jazz. Geckos could dig K-pop. Cockatoos might jive to EDM. Hedgehogs, deep house. Only time will tell. All we know for certain is that dogs really like reggae.
And that a lot more adorable research is needed.
Marc Beaulieu is a writer, producer and host of the live Q&A show guyQ LIVE @AskMen.