Dogs waiting for their forever homes in kenneled environments are often pretty stressed out. The social and spatial restrictions placed on dogs, the lack of control, these among many other factors can increase stress. This stress can ultimately lead to behavioral problems, which can make it harder for those dogs to find their new family. Fortunately, researchers are studying cost-effective ways for shelters to enrich the environments in kennels to reduce stress in dogs. Auditory enrichment strategies have been found effective at reducing stress in many animals. Even though classical music isn’t found in the natural environments of most animals, it has been found effective at reducing stress in animals, including kenneled dogs.
Researchers from Hartpury University Centre in Gloucestershire, UK studied a form of auditory enrichment that hadn’t been studied before in dogs – audiobooks! 31 dogs in a rescue shelter were played an audiobook, classical music, pop music, and psychoacoustically designed dog music at different times. Audiobooks resulted in less time sitting or standing in vigilance, and more time resting when compared to all other experimental and control conditions! Based on this research, it seems that audiobooks might be a beneficial and cost-effective strategy to help dogs relax while housed in shelters.
Prior research suggests classical music reduces stress in kenneled dogs, and it likely does! This research tells us that audiobooks might be better. Environmental enrichment is often best when it can mimic the experiences of the animal’s natural environment. If the natural environment of a dog is spending time listening to humans talk and share stories, audiobooks may come very close to that.
While this research was conducted on dogs living in a rescue shelter, the positive effects of audiobooks might also work on your dog at home! If your dog needs some relaxation help, try out some auditory enrichment in the form of a good audiobook. It might even have a positive effect on the humans in the house, too.
Thank you to @WateryMountainEssentials on Instagram for the photo!