Some research has been done on pets using music for dogs to relax, but not enough formal studies have been conducted. As a result, the positive effects of using a theme to help an animal feel better aren’t known yet.
But since most animals seem more calm and content when they’re listening to soothing music, there’s no reason not to use it while you’re training or taking care of your pet.
Do All Genres Work as Music for Dogs to Relax?
However, not all types of music are safe for pets to be around. Pets who are already nervous shouldn’t have their anxiety levels increased by loud noises, particularly dogs since they’re sensitive to high-pitched sounds, which can be physically painful for them.
It’s also recommended that you never use heavy metal music around your pet since the lyrics and shouting can be irritating and even frightening for them.
Classical music for dogs
A study done in Ireland found that classical music is the preferred calming sound source in animal shelters.
Research done by Through a Dog’s Ear took this a step further and applied the principles of resonance, entertainment, and the orienting response to classical music selections.
The results were tremendous! When played, classical music had a profound effect on the behavior of dogs in the shelter.
It increased their resting and sleeping behavior dramatically, as well as the amount of time they spent with back feet on the ground (indicating a sense of calm and relaxation).
But the most interesting was the change in behavior before and after the music. The ears went up, heads turned and became still, then the tail started wagging.
Before the music, the dog’s behavior was barking, pacing, jumping up, and whining.
The behavior after the music was completely different; there was more sitting, lying down with heads on the ground, wagging tails.
This tells us that the calming effect of music on dogs in shelters may be confirmed and observable – not just wishful thinking on shelter workers.
The orienting response in dogs
Pattern identification is another component of bioacoustics and psychoacoustic and is related to the complexity of sound.
When a new pattern is introduced, the focus of the brain turns to this sensory input. This is called active listening in pets.
Once the pattern is processed, the brain returns to a passive hearing state.
The first few times a new pattern is presented, and the brain focuses on this, it must work harder to identify and process the information.
After repeated presentations of that sound pattern, the brain doesn’t have to work as hard, and more resources are available for other cognitive behaviors.
Classical music has long been associated with calming dogs.
Music for dogs to relax
Through a Dog’s Ear is explicitly created for pets and consists only of positive melodies and rhythms that mirror the natural phrases of the canine heart and brainwave patterns.
The music is used to help pets feel less stressed, more relaxed and reduce problem behaviors such as barking, chewing random things, separation anxiety, and more.
Because dogs’ hearing is far greater than that of humans (four times greater in the higher frequencies), it makes sense that they would be attracted to well-arranged music in the higher frequencies, which are most appealing to them.
In the study, classical music was preferred over other genres.
Many people feel that no training or conditioning is needed for dogs to listen to this music.
While exposure to this music provides a host of benefits to dogs, it should never take the place of training.
Dogs exposed to classical music without training may not understand what to do with the information and can become confused and anxious.
music as Therapy for pets
Music is therapeutic for all animals. It helps reduce anxiety, stress, and boredom; it can help pets feel less lonely or more relaxed. With some more active dogs, playing calming music can help them settle down and relax.
Music is essential for shelter dogs, who often have little or nothing to do all day. When classical music is played, shelter dogs relax—their heart rates slow down, they lie down, and some even fall asleep.
This can make workers’ jobs easier because the dogs are less likely to bark or pace. It also makes them more adoptable.
Lowering stress levels in dogs
Most importantly, classical music can help make shelter dogs happier. Even though they can’t ask us to play their favorite genre or artist, music is a simple way to improve the quality of their day.
Animal shelter workers keep dogs calm by playing classical music. Even more reassuringly, the positive effects on stress were long-lasting.
“The level of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the dogs’ blood was lower when the music was played, even several hours after it had been turned off.”
These findings help support the idea that music has a beneficial effect on dogs and can even reduce stress hormone levels.
Additional Research is Necessary
Still, more work is needed to understand precisely how, when, and for whom music affects dogs best.
It’s clear that every dog is different and that what makes one dog happy might make another one even more stressed.
The results are consistent with previous work suggesting that dogs prefer species-appropriate music, such as canine-inspired barks and howls, rather than human music.
We also know that they like specific keys and tempos—and that the key of C major is the overall favorite.
But it’s something of a mystery why some tunes appeal to some dogs and not others, or at certain times rather than others.
All in all, a growing body of research suggests that music is a powerful tool that can help us bond with our dogs and enhance their quality of life.
So there you go – Play some soothing music, grab a glass of wine, and sit down with your dog on a nice, calm night!