- Conditioned emotional response,
- separation problems,
Aim of the research has been evaluating the possibility to evoke a conditioned positive emotional response in the dogs with separation problems by listening music. For the present study 14 dogs, with symptoms referable to separation problems, were used.
All dogs were conditioned for 20 days to listen to, for 20 minutes, three times a day, a piece of music chosen by the owner, in a calm environment and in the presence of the owner.
After 4 days from the end of the conditioning period, each dog was subjected to 3 experimental tests consisting in being alone, for 5 minutes, in an unknown environment, different for each test, in silence or listening, for the duration of the session experimental, the music chosen by the owner or a piece of classical music. The dog's behavior was filmed by a video camera positioned in the experimental room.
The data analysis of canine behavior in the test sessions revealed that the behavior "barking" is expressed statistically lower when the dog is listening to the music chosen by the owner with respect to classical music (q = 2.27; p <0.05). Also the behavior "scratching the door" is lower expressed when the dog is listening to the music chosen by the owner with respect to classical music (q = 2.74; p <0.05) and to the period of silence (q = 2.36; p <0.05).
The results, given the small number of animals and the extreme individual variability, are still considered preliminary, but seem to demonstrate the possibility of conditioning the dog to a positive emotion such as that arises when the animal is in a familiar environment and in presence of the owner.