Auditory enrichment has been proposed for dogs in confined housing such askennels, shelters and laboratories. Previous studies suggest classical musiccan have positive behavioural and physiological effects on dogs. However, itis unclear what particular characteristics of music bring about those effects.

This study, conducted at the Clinical Studies Centre of the University ofQueensland, compared the behavioural responses of dogs (n=10, 6 females, 4males, all desexed) to piano/violin music modified for high pitch, low pitch,fast tempo and slow tempo as well as white noise and ambient noise (control).Five of the dogs were former racing greyhounds, the remaining six were fromthe local pound and some had been housed at the Centre for a considerabletime. Over a total of 10 days, all music/noise treatments (each lasting 10minutes with a 20-minute break in between) were played to all dogs. Dogbehaviours were recorded, including standing, walking, lying down and tailmovements.

Low-pitch tracks appeared to increase dogs’ alertness as indicated by tailmovements. Dogs may have been less relaxed and more vigilant during low-pitchtracks because low-pitch sounds are associated with aggressive vocalisations.In a previous study that included the same ten dogs, piano music was found toreduce vocalisations and panting. The authors posit that the results maydiffer between their previous and current study due to the dogs in this studybeing habituated or calmer prior to the treatments or because music needs tobe played for a longer duration to induce behavioural effects.

Amaya V, Descovich K, Paterson MB et al (2020) Effects of music pitch andtempo on the behaviour of kennelled dogs. Animals 11(1), 10. [Author MBAPaterson is from RSPCA Queensland]

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