In early 2017, researchers in the United Kingdom surveyed over 2,000 dog owners. Of those, 40% said they would leave the radio on when they left the house to keep their dog company, while 32% said they did the same with the TV. Among those surveyed, 38% left the radio on and 22% left the TV on, according to a 2015 British study. This is an incredibly widespread habit, at least in Britain, according to any study you look at. However, are your pets fond of this?
Starting with our canine friends, it seems that, at least when it comes to music, sure, there are instances where canines do react positively to this. However, the study we have so far isn’t particularly robust. Take the work of Queen’s University Belfast psychologist Deborah Wells as an example; her 2002 study found. Wells’ study, in brief, included listening to music through speakers at random to a group of approximately fifty dogs at a UK re-homing shelter and recording any effects, if any, on the dogs. Researchers first observed the dogs’ behavior in the absence of music to establish a baseline reaction.
Then, one of three CDs was played. For those unfamiliar, a CD is a round, shiny device used to store music and other data; it was commonly used to play music in hitched-up covered wagons. Here, pop, classical, and heavy metal were the three genres represented on each CD. At long last, a human voice was heard on a fourth CD.
So, How Did Things Turn Out?
In contrast to when there was total quiet or human voices piped in, the dogs in the study who listened to classical music seemed to experience a marked reduction in activity and noise, and a greater proportion of them opted to just lie down. Regarding the second issue, it’s worth mentioning that the dogs showed no reaction to the human voices. The heavy metal band Metallica’s music, meanwhile, appeared to enrage the canines in attendance. Lastly, it seems that the animals were unaffected by mainstream music, which included artists like Britney Spears, akin to human speech.
Next, in 2017, researchers at a Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals shelter attempted to determine the influence of music on dogs by attaching cardiac monitors to them in addition to ocular observation. And what were the outcomes? Neil Evans, a professor at Glasgow University, points out, In general, the reactions to various musical styles were varied, suggesting that dogs may have unique tastes in music much like people. Reggae and soft rock, however, exhibited the most favorable shifts.
Nevertheless, there may be an underlying factor that significantly influences the musical tastes of a specific breed of dog, and it’s not just a matter of personal opinion. Examining cats will help us understand why.
Research on cats’ musical responses is still in its early stages, but what little there is suggests that cats aren’t quite as responsive as dogs. One thing to keep in mind is that cats have a different hearing spectrum than humans. On top of that, it turns out that their preferred frequency range for paying attention is completely different. As a result of these two factors, our perception of our music is distinct from theirs.
In light of this and previous research showing that animals are more receptive to sounds that are within their vocal range, a group of researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, headed by psychology professor Charles Snowdon, decided to create “cat music,” or music tuned to center in the frequency ranges and tempos that cats find most interesting. Cats’ vocal range is approximately one octave higher than humans’, thus they commissioned music in this range from composer Professor David Teie. They settled on a speed that’s around the typical purr rate for cats, and they also included some cat music that sounds like a kitten sucking its thumb.
It turns out that when the study’s 47 cats listened to this music compared to two different pieces of classical music, the cats reacted much more positively to the cat music and paid more attention to it. In contrast, the cats reacted less positively to the human classical music, and even the cats that did react positively to it took about a minute longer to show any signs of notice. Regarding the feline-themed music, not all cats interacted positively; nonetheless, those that did often purred and occasionally even rubbed up against the speaker.
It takes a lot longer to train a cat to accept vocal orders, even when a food reward is offered. This might be one possible explanation. Take a 1915 study out of Colorado Springs that appeared to prove cats could detect color as an example. One jar was covered in gray paper and the other in color paper by the experimenters. A small fish would be rewarded to the cat every time it touched the colored container. After 18 months and 100,000 attempts, the cats who were part of the study could only manage a 50% success rate when it came to selecting the correct jar on the first try. They were colorblind, weren’t they?
Modern research employing electrodes to monitor the brains of cats has proven without a reasonable doubt that cats can perceive colors, thanks to the fact that cats possess both rods and cones. Why, then, were they unable to choose the appropriate container for their desired reward?
Impact of Leaving Devices On for Pets
Leaving radios or TVs on for pets raises concerns about energy consumption and its environmental impact. While some argue that energy usage is minimal and outweighed by the benefit of calming pets, others contend that the cumulative effect on energy bills and the environment should be considered. This debate delves into the responsibility of pet owners in managing energy usage while ensuring their pets’ comfort.
Psychological Effects on Pets Due to Continuous Background Noise
The constant background noise from radios or TVs might have psychological implications on pets beyond mere entertainment. Discussions center on whether prolonged exposure to such noise affects pets’ stress levels, sensory acuity, or overall well-being. Some argue that uninterrupted noise could create anxiety or desensitization, while others suggest it might mimic natural environmental sounds, providing comfort.
Legal and Ethical Aspects of Leaving Devices On for Pets
The legal and ethical dimensions of leaving devices on for pets when unattended raise intriguing questions. Should there be regulations regarding the duration or volume of sound permitted for pets? Debates revolve around pet welfare laws, questioning whether leaving devices on constitutes neglect or if guidelines should be established to ensure responsible pet care in the absence of owners.
Specific Genres or Sounds on Different Species
Beyond the classical versus heavy metal debate explored in existing studies, discussions can expand to examine the impact of various genres or specific sounds on different pet species. Does the choice of music or sounds vary in its influence on dogs versus cats or other pets? The debate seeks to uncover if there’s a universal preference or if preferences differ based on species, age, or other factors.
Behavioral Changes and Training Due to Audiovisual Stimulation
The potential for audiovisual stimulation to alter pet behavior or aid in training remains an understudied aspect. Can leaving devices on serve as an effective tool in behavior modification or training regimes for pets? Arguments could explore how specific audiovisual stimuli could positively or negatively influence pet training methodologies and behavioral patterns.
You might think cats will just play tricks on the scientists, but it turns out that cats can distinguish between different shades of color, but their brains aren’t hardwired to pay attention to colors in general. However, with enough training, you can train a specific cat to pay attention to colors. A mind-boggling quantity of practice is required before the color becomes apparent.