Science projects on the effects of music on dogs give music-loving dog owners a chance to combine their natural interests with scientific investigations for a science fair. Taking care to ensure the humane treatment of the dogs, students can explore questions of dogs' musical preferences in relation to behavioral reaction, location, owner's musical tastes, health or eating habits. Comparing results between different ages or breeds gives additional insight into the influence of these factors on the effects of music on dogs.
A good scientist takes the time to learn about the current knowledge on her topic of study. Read magazine and journal articles, books and websites about the effects of music on dogs. Formulate a question that you would like to study in more detail. For example, "How does a dog react to different styles of music?"; "Do dogs react differently to different types of music in different places?"; "Is there a correlation between a dog's owner's music preferences and the dog's reaction to music?"; "Does playing music help dogs recover from illness or surgery faster?"; or "Will a dog learn to associate certain types of music or songs with mealtime or bedtime?"
A hypothesis makes an educated guess about the answer to the question you are investigating. Predict the results of the testing based on your current knowledge. For example, "Classical music will have a calming influence on a dog while rock-and-roll will cause more boisterous behavior." Or, "A dog will calm when it hears the type of music its owner listens to most frequently." Or, "Dogs have different music preferences in different locations such as the car or the house." Or, "Dogs recover more quickly from illness or surgery when kept in an environment of soothing music." Or, "When an owner consistently plays the same song or type of music at mealtime or bedtime, a dog will learn to associate the music with food or quieting down for the night."
A good scientific test keeps all factors but one consistent across tests and changes only one variable at a time to minimize the effect of other differences on the results. Take pictures and video of the dogs during testing. Feed the dogs on a consistent and regular schedule and maintain the normal routine. Find a quiet, familiar place in the home and have the owner play different types of music such as jazz, classical, rock-and-roll, heavy metal, country, gospel, Christian and pop. Observe the dog's reaction for signs of calming, stress or agitation. To test for locational differences, repeat the test in the car, at the park or other outdoor location and a friend's house. Interview the owners about their own musical preferences and compare them with the dogs' reactions to different musical styles. Work with a veterinarian to test how music affects a dog's recovery time; or play the same style of music or a particular song at a dog's mealtime or bedtime over a period of several days or weeks. Observe whether a dog develops an automatic reaction when it hears that music, such as running immediately to the food bowl or relaxing in its customary sleeping area.
If a scientific investigation is going to benefit anyone, a scientist must be able to communicate his findings to others. Write a summary of the background knowledge, research question and hypothesis. Describe the testing procedure and variables. Determine whether you proved or disproved your hypothesis and why. Make charts that show each dog's behavioral reaction to each type of music, correlation to location or owner's preferences. Create graphs that show the difference in a dog's recovery time with or without music; or how long it takes each dog to associate music with food or rest time. Play the testing video at your table during the science fair and be prepared to explain to the judges what you learned about the effects that music has on dogs.
- David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images