Classical music and lavender smell may help shelter dogs to get rid of stress

Dog shelters are helping hundreds of animals. They get saved from the streets and can eventually be adopted to new homes. However, this is still a major cause of stress in these dogs. Now scientists from The University of Queensland conducted a research, which revealed that some classical music and whiffs of lavender may make shelter life a lot less stressful.

Canine stress may cause a variety of behavioural and health issues, which reduce the chance of the dog getting adopted. Image credit: liz west via Wikimedia(CC BY 2.0)

Dogs have to adapt themselves in new environments a lot like people. A shelter is completely different from a normal home – there are a lot of other dogs, different rules and people who are actually working. Canine stress may cause a lot of issues and even health problems, but it also reduces the quality of life. Scientists say that some simple sensory and behavioural interventions could help managing canine stress in shelters. This new study tested smell and sound stimuli in shelter dogs – lavender and classical music were the stimuli that scientists experimented with. And they worked.

There were actually three treatments – lavender, classical music and a commonly used synthetic calming mixture. Scientists filmed 60 dogs to see which treatment worked best. Researchers didn’t know if more experimentation needs to be done, because the answer is very important. More and more dogs find their new home in shelters and they do struggle to adapt. Scientists found that simple classical music, as long as it is soothing, and smell of lavender actually help dogs to calm down and be less stressed.

People don’t take canine stress seriously enough – it is a growing global problem. Veronica Amaya, one of the researchers of the study, said a shelter “exposes animals to multiple stimuli over which they have no control, including unfamiliar feeding and walking routines, and confining them to a small space for long periods of time. Continuous stress can lead to behavioural changes which affects rehoming success and increases euthanasia statistics”. However, these issues could be managed with very cheap means, such as behavioural therapy and sensory environment enrichment programs.

Dogs that didn’t experience too much stress have higher chances of being adopted. They are happier, trust people more and adapt themselves to new home better. Just putting on some Bach may be all it takes for some shelter dogs to calm down and relax.

 

Source: The University of Queensland

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