There Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong With The Radio

Last Updated on: 23rd June 2023, 08:08 pm

Do you put the radio on for the dog when you go out? It won’t keep your pet calm, study finds
Science is science I guess, but anecdotally, I’m not buying this one.

I can’t speak for Domino yet because he’s only been here for a few weeks and we haven’t needed to leave him alone, but radio absolutely made a difference for Trixie and Tansy. The key is that it has to be the right audio for each dog, which you can only discover through trial and error.

Trix was an oldies fan and wasn’t super picky about it, which is interesting considering how much of a stress pot she was in general. This was nice, because it meant I could put one of the three or four oldies stations we could get on AM on for her and head out.

Tans, on the other hand, took more figuring out. I discovered this while Carin was in the hospital getting to know the captain. Oldies didn’t work for her, at least not when she was young. She appreciated them more in her later years, but when she was two or three? Forget it. She also had an especially big hate on for AM 740 Toronto, which I think is because that station often has a background electronic interference hum that bothered her. She wound up being quite specific about what she liked. It had to be Easy 101 out of Tillsonburg, in the days before Rogers bought it and ruined it. No other stations, not even ones that played similar music, would cut it. And you’ll never convince me that it didn’t help. I remember leaving in a hurry one morning and forgetting to turn it on for her. Man alive. When I got home that day it was like an episode of the Flintstones where she was Dino and I was Fred. She was always happy to see me come home, but this was something else. I made sure to never make that mistake again.

Eventually, both dogs got to the point where if we left them with a radio, it would take them a while to notice when we came home. Instead of waiting by the door or running out and attacking us immediately, they would wake up, saunter out and just be like “oh hey, you’re back. Cool.”

So having said all of that, I’m having a hard time trusting these findings much. Perhaps all of the dogs they looked at just don’t enjoy classical music and would have rather listened to a different genre. And though I’ll grant you I’m far from a dog expert, what I do know about them has me surprised that audiobooks would work in any situation. “Here, Floofus. Daddy’s gotta go out for a while, but this invisible stranger’s voice in a box that always kind of sounds a bit like it wants you for something but actually doesn’t will take care of you.” That just seems like a surefire way to freak them out.

Past research showed that classical music had a calming effect on dogs in chronically stressful situations, so researchers set about testing if it would also relax dogs separated from their owners for a short time. The findings, published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science, showed that classical music had only a moderately calming effect on the 82 dogs studied, and no welfare benefits were recorded when audiobooks were played to them.
But the dogs exposed to classical music were significantly faster to lie down and settle than those that were played audiobooks — which spent more time gazing at the speaker.

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