As a dog behaviourist, I'm always interested in learning new ways to calm and reduce stress and anxiety in dogs. One method I regularly use for my own pet dogs is classical music.
Classical music Proven To reduce stress in Dogs
Stress, excessive barking and separation anxiety in dogs is a common and serious issue causing considerable stress in owners. It's something that I see a great deal as a dog behaviourist. It can cause nervous behaviours like chewing, destruction and pacing, along with urinating and defecating in the household. If you work in a rescue centre with anxious dogs, or have a dog at home that howls every time you leave him alone, there are simple ways to help calm and soothe nerves without drugs or medication. Simply changing his mood with the right music can relax him enough to rest and fall asleep without destroying your home in the process.
Classical music has a calming effect on dogs in rehoming centres, according to research carried out for the Scottish SPCA. During the study, dogs' stress levels decreased significantly after the music was played into their kennel.
Use music to soothe dog separation anxiety.
Pick The Right Tune!
As a dog behaviourist, I see many people who leave their radio on all day hoping it will keep their pets entertained and help battle loneliness, without another thought that classical music may be more beneficial. Dogs understand music differently than we do, so it’s wise not to assume they will like the same Rock FM or City Radio playing hip-hop, blues and country that you tap your foot to. Dogs hear at a higher frequency than people do and process audio differently. Animals may hear your music as annoying and would rather listen to their own music designed with the right pitches and tones.
Amazon sell tunes specifically designed for dogs, like a CD from Canine Lullabies. Dogs will visually start relaxing when listening to simple melodies and fewer instruments in the music mix. Dog-designed music typically promises to stop unwanted barking, reduce hyperactivity and calm your dog in the car and home. Whenever I get a dog behaviourist client’s dog that is stressed out, the first thing I do is switch on the CD with specific dog related classical music and after a few hours that dog always stops barking and appears to become a lot more relaxed.
Appeal to Your Classical Canine Tastes
You may not need anything special to calm your dog other than what’s already on classical FM. The Journal of Veterinary Behaviour shows that classical music can actually reduce anxiety and stress in dogs and comfort them. This can be especially helpful for dogs living in shelters and rescue dogs newly introduced to your home after suffering from social isolation - the most common dog behaviourist clients. Dogs listening to classical music are shown to spend more time in a resting state and bark less than other dogs.
Help Your Dog Sleep
Anxious dogs that have difficulty resting or sleeping could benefit from canine-designed music like Through a Dog’s Ear. This CD builds on Dr. Alfred Tomatis’ psycho-acoustic research and can be found on amazon. (This is the CD I use whenever I go out in the car or have a client’s dog boarding.) He realised sound could work as a nutrient for the nervous system and studied how it affected the human nervous system.
Through a Dog’s Ear builds on that foundation of research and expands it toward dogs. They studied how canines process auditory information and music and created audio that naturally triggers relaxation responses. This type of response is ideal for noisy, crowded dog shelters, but can also benefit dogs in your home that are stressed out, nervous or hyperactive and show difficulty winding down and sleeping.
Let Your Dogs Howl
In 1980, Carnegie Hall hosted an orchestral debut, Howl, featuring the musical work of 20 human voices and 3 dogs. Were they really singing? Research shows canines have a sense of pitch and can be encouraged to howl when the long note on a violin is playing. Some people like to think the howl is a form of singing, while others just think the dogs are having a good time. Regardless of why your dog is howling at the music, if he seems to enjoy it, let him serenade you. Just maybe not at bedtime.
If you're still having trouble with a stressed or anxious dog, please contact me for help from an experienced and caring dog behaviourist.
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