Domestic dogs are often kept in kennelled environments. These may be stressful, and impact negatively upon welfare, due to unpredictable variations in space, social interaction and noise. Auditory stimulation such as music has been demonstrated to enhance animal welfare in a range of species, however despite suggested benefits in humans the potential of audiobooks as auditory enrichment for animals has not been investigated. The present study aimed to investigate the effects of audiobooks upon the behaviour of 31 dogs housed in a rescue shelter. The dogs were exposed to five auditory conditions (audiobook, classical music, pop music, psychoacoustically designed dog music and no auditory control) for 2 h with an intervening period of 2 days between conditions. The dogs’ behaviour were recorded every 5 min throughout the 2 h auditory conditions using instantaneous scan-sampling. The findings from the present study indicate that exposure to audiobooks significantly influences the behaviour of kennelled dogs. Audiobooks resulted in dogs spending more of their time resting than when exposed to any of the other auditory conditions (Control: Z = −4.807, P < 0.001; Pop: Z = −4.791, P < 0.001; Classical: Z = −4.732, P < 0.001; Psychoacoustically designed dog music: Z = −3.911, P < 0.001). Dogs also spent less time displaying sitting or standing vigilant behaviour when the audiobook was played compared to all other conditions (Control: Z = −4.579, P < 0.001; Pop: Z = −4.504, P < 0.001; Classical: Z = −3.450, P = 0.001; psychoacoustically designed dog music: Z = −3.514, P < 0.001). This study suggests that exposure to audiobooks can enhance the welfare of kennelled dogs due to their calming influence on dog behaviour. Use of audiobooks provides a simple yet practical tool that can be readily used in many kennel environments to enhance dog welfare and potentially increase the likelihood of successful rehoming of dogs.
|Publication Title||Applied Animal Behaviour Science|
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