When you put on a CD or turn on the radio, you may notice that your dog responds to the sound of the music, but they may be responding more to each individual piece than one style of music.
Every dog is an individual, much like every human. Depending on the dog, they may respond differently to different kinds of music. Many people choose to leave the radio on for their dog while they are away from home, and pick what they think will be soothing for their dog. Even within particular types of music though, the styles and sounds can be very different. Classical music, for example, can range from soothing and calming to bold and brassy loud. It isn’t so much the style or genre of music, but the tones of individual pieces that may affect how your dog reacts to the sounds she is hearing.
Music that has short, repetitive notes is more stimulating than music with drawn out notes, which is more likely to be calming. The tempo or speed may also affect your dog. Music that is close to their breathing rate or heartbeat is more calming. Music that is more frenetic is more likely to stimulate them. The volume matters too.
If you want to play soothing music for your dog, try recording your own compilation of calming musical pieces, not just a random radio station that might play music with a wide range of tempo, volume and style. Observe how your dog reacts to it.
We adopted another dog recently. He needed a home quickly so we are making it work, even though our original plan was to wait until we moved into a house with a yard before getting a second dog. One of our biggest concerns with bringing another shelter dog home was that he might undo some of the work we’ve done with our shy, fearful resident dog, Frosty. In order to get ahead of any potential problems, we immediately enrolled the newest member of our pack in training classes.
Armed with a new harness, a dog mat, a clicker and plenty of CANIDAE TidNips treats, we were ready for training. The first day we worked on basic mat work and name recognition exercises. While practicing having the dog stay on the mat, our instructor had a “stranger” dress up in a crazy outfit and weave through the participants. The dogs were supposed to remain calmly on their mats and not react to the mysterious stranger in the giant sombrero. After that, the instructor pulled out a vacuum cleaner that has to be the loudest one I’ve ever heard.
Happily, our new pooch was unfazed, which is the exact opposite of how Frosty would have responded. She would have tried to eat the sombrero-wearing lady whole, and she would have become completely unhinged by the vacuum cleaner. In fact, several dogs in the training session did not fare well during this portion of the class, which prompted an interesting discussion about the influence of sounds and music on an animal’s behavior.
An article on the WebVet website explains this subject in detail. It starts with a series of questions. I think most dog owners would answer yes to at least one of these questions: Does your Pug pace and whine when the alarm clock goes off? Does your Labrador retriever howl when you run the blender? Does your Australian shepherd bark incessantly when your neighbors mow their lawns? Is your Dalmatian afraid of the vacuum cleaner?
Have you ever looked at your dog and thought he was watching television? Better yet, have you had music playing and thought for sure that he was listening intently while his tail wagged in time to the beat? Well, you may not be far off base with that thought, but Rover is probably paying attention to the visual and auditory stimulation in a way that is different than the way a human watches TV and listens to music.
Dogs have eyesight that is different from that of humans, so when your dog appears to be watching television, he isn’t exactly seeing the action and the story unfold, but he is seeing the flickering light and hearing the sounds. You’ve probably seen your dog get excited when a dog barks on the television, or whine when there is a high pitched sound.
Many responsible pet owners who have to leave their dog home alone will leave a television on to provide the dog with “entertainment.” Whether the dog is entertained or not, the television provides the lights and sounds that he is used to when his owners are at home. This may keep the dog from becoming anxious or acting out when he is left alone for a few hours.
Music is an important part of our lives. We listen to a wide variety of tunes both in the home and away. I know Mozart or Brahms works great for a pet that is afraid of thunderstorms, but what about all those other times when we have the radio or stereo blaring with our favorite music? Does it upset our pets or do they like listening to the music we play?
My mom had a dog who loved singing along with certain commercials on TV. He even had a favorite one. Every time he heard it, he would race into the living room and sit in front of the TV so he could sing to his heart’s content. He was also afraid of thunderstorms, and the 4th of July was no picnic for him. Mom decided to tape his favorite commercial along with a variety of others he liked and started playing them during thunderstorms to help relax him. We discovered he had a particular musician that he seemed to like and those songs were added to his special tape. Thunderstorms and fireworks still made him uncomfortable, but listening to his favorite music made both bearable.
Pets do seem to like listening to music, as long as it’s non-threatening to them. If we keep the volume down, most pets enjoy listening to a soft mellow tune. Some even enjoy songs with a lively beat. Music can be a great therapy option for pets who are fearful. Classical music works the best as long as it’s calm with no sudden crescendos or loud, rapid beating of drums in the background. Heavy metal gets a paws down from pets, because this type of music hurts their ears and is upsetting to them. Most pets will leave a room if the music is too loud and irritating to their ears.
Animal shelters are discovering how well pets like listening to music and have started playing soft tunes in their kennels to help dogs and cats relax. The music helps pets by reducing their anxiety and puts them in a more relaxed state of mind. Fearful dogs or cats are more likely to allow shelter workers to pet them when music is playing in the background. Veterinarians are learning that music can have a positive effect on pets after surgery while they are recuperating.
If you have a dog or cat who has separation anxiety, is fearful or afraid of thunderstorms or spends their day barking at everything they see from their perch in front of a window, try leaving a radio on and tuned to a classical station while you are away. The volume doesn’t need to be turned up so the music can be heard everywhere in the house. That way, if the pet doesn’t feel like listening to music, they can go to another room to get away from it. Many pet stores carry recordings made specifically for pets with tunes that are relaxing and pleasing to any dog or cat who likes to listen to music.
Music has a way of calming us down after a stressful day at work or a day shopping at the mall. It works much the same way on our pets. They can be just as stressed out by all the commotion going on in our lives as we are. Because they hear at a higher frequency than we do, all the noise we hear is amplified in the ears of our pets. Households may have one or more TVs on, with kids playing video games that have sounds of things crashing, things being blown up and sirens blaring. Let’s face it – most video games are not quiet. Pets can go from one room to another only to find loud noises that can upset them more than we realize.
Not all pets like listening to music, though. Some seem to ignore it completely while others swish their tail back and forth as if they are searching for the beat. Some pets do have a preference when it comes to certain musicians or types of music. I listen to a wide variety of music and prefer something that is soft and mellow. My pets do seem to have their favorites as long as I don’t have the volume cranked up so the neighbors can hear it, which also makes my neighbors happy. You can’t go wrong with good music, relaxed dogs and happy neighbors.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.