If you have a nervous dog at home, one who quakes with anxiety whenever they’re left alone, you might be looking for ways to calm your canine companion.
While there aren’t many scientific studies indicating that music can be used to relieve canine anxiety, there is plenty of evidence that suggests playing classical music to ease your dog’s stress is a pretty good option.
Classical music tends to relax dogs more than genres such as hard rock, jazz, and heavy metal, but solo piano music appears to be the choice that provides the most anxiety relief! Read on for more information about this calming modality and a few other tips to help keep your dog relaxed and happy.
What Is It About Solo Piano Music That’s So Calming?
While scientists aren’t entirely sure, some speculate that the slower pace and simpler melodic lines of solo piano music are what provide it with such calming power. Other types of classical music worked, just not as well as piano music.
Both upbeat symphonic and slower, more melodic piano compositions prompted nervous dogs to stop standing and lie down. Listening to classical music has also been shown to increase the amount of time dogs left alone spend sleeping and decrease the amount of time they spend barking. According to some recent studies, soft rock and reggae also have stress-reducing properties.
What About Music Designed Specifically for Dogs?
There’s quite a bit of music designed with dogs in mind. Canine Lullabies and Through a Dog’s Ear both include music with frequencies and harmonies chosen for their calming effects on dogs. Spotify has several playlists full of dog-friendly human music.
And YouTube is packed with dog-calming playlists. There are even a few apps that will help you select appropriate tunes. Choices explicitly designed for dogs appear to work even better than classical music regarding canine relaxation.
When Can I Most Effectively Use Music to Calm My Dog?
Dogs react well to the calming effect of music in most situations. Many owners find that playing music during car rides keeps their dogs from becoming overly excited. Pet parents of dogs suffering from separation anxiety often leave soft music playing while they’re gone to help their companion modulate their panic at being left alone. You can also play music for your dog to keep them calm while crated and to relax them if they’ve retreated to their safe space.
Playing soft music is also a great way to help new puppies and dogs adjust to their home. Some owners find that music helps dogs remain relaxed during thunderstorms and fireworks displays.
What Causes Canine Anxiety?
Several factors influence the development and intensity of canine anxiety. Dogs are notoriously prone to having anxiety attacks when exposed to repeated loud noises such as thunderstorms or fireworks. Some also have panic attacks when left alone, a condition known as separation anxiety.
Dogs have sensitive hearing. They can hear a wider range of frequencies than we can and can clearly distinguish sounds from further away than we can. While humans can hear sounds in a frequency range that extends from 20 to 20,000Hz, dogs can hear frequencies from 40 to 60,000Hz.
Humans can generally hear sounds from a maximum of 20 feet away, but dogs have us beat in this respect as they can hear sounds from a stunning 80 feet away. Their hearing is essentially 4 to 5 times better than ours. Dogs react to loud noises like fireworks because their hearing is much keener than ours.
Separation anxiety has other causes. Unfortunately, veterinarians and animal behavioral experts aren’t sure what leads to separation anxiety. It’s essentially a severe panic attack that occurs whenever a dog’s person leaves them alone.
It’s excruciating for the animal and often stressful for the dog’s owner. While no one is entirely sure why dogs develop the condition, it appears that pets who’ve been abandoned are prone to feeling stress when left alone. Moves and changes to family composition also appear to be contributing factors.
Tips for Using Music to Calm Dogs
Introducing music as a calming method works best if you begin when your dog is still young. If you’ve got a puppy at home, start playing calming music now so they’ll get used to the sound and associate it with positive memories involving safe moments with their favorite person. Starting while your dog is young gives you plenty of time to experiment with various genres to see if there’s a particular composer, band, or type of music your dog prefers.
Consider playing whatever music calms your dog regularly, not just when they need comforting. You want them to associate the music with happy times and good feelings, so you’ll need to play music during fun bonding moments with your dog for it to work as a calming method when things get stressful. Remember to keep the volume relatively low when playing music for your dog.
Classical music can do wonders for your dog to lower anxiety, but slow, melodic, solo piano music works best as an antidote for canine stress. Also, music designed to calm stressed-out dogs appears to be even more powerful.
Play music when you’re bonding with your dog, so they begin to associate music with safety and feeling good. When you examine the number of free options available on YouTube and Spotify, you’ll see that using music to calm your dog is definitely worth a try!
Featured Image Credit: Monkey Business Images, Shutterstock