Studies show that music is an effective way to calm your dog. Loud, distracting environments such as those encountered in veterinary offices can be scary and stressful for some dogs.
The sound of classical or new age music may help to reduce canine anxiety during stressful events.
- Picking the Right Dog Music
It’s not possible to generalize about the types of music that will or won’t calm your dog. What works to soothe one may have the complete opposite effect on another.
It is likely that dogs who are sensitive to human emotions sense the emotions coming from the people playing the music. If you play music, monitor your dog’s behavior for signs of anxiety or even fear while he is listening.
- Don’t Forget Their Parents
For some dogs, the anxiety comes from separation anxiety. These dogs may not calm down simply by listening to music because they are too worried about what’s happening with their people.
Try playing soothing music on low volume while you’re at home or doing other things in another room, so your dog gets used to the idea of people coming and going in the house.
- Preparing for Veterinary Visits
Veterinarians often recommend people “prep” their dogs before taking them to the vet by doing things like playing classical music in the car when they take the dog on car rides to places like dog-friendly stores or parks. This process can help make veterinary visits less stressful for the dogs.
- Emotional Support Dogs in Your Community
Be cautious about using music to calm your dog if you suspect he is actually responding to emotional distress, such as a friend or family member passing away. Music cannot replace the emotional support of a person who can provide genuine love and care during difficult times.
The stress and anxiety dogs feel in a veterinary office can be eased with soothing music. Try playing soft, relaxing music at home to train your dog to associate pleasant music with other positive experiences.
- Don’t Play Music Too Loud
While calming classical or new age music may help reduce canine anxiety during stressful events, dogs should not be exposed to excessively loud sounds that could damage their hearing.
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5 Ways To Calm Your Dog With Music
The following are some ways to calm your dog with music:
- Play relaxing classical or new age music softly in the background of all home and car activities. At first, play the music for short periods of time only a few times a day. Gradually increase the length of time as your dog begins to show less anxiety at the sound of the music.
- If you play recorded music, low volume is best so that your dog can get used to hearing people coming and going without becoming afraid. The volume should never be loud or unpleasantly low where it would interfere with normal conversation or hinder your ability to monitor your dog’s behavior for signs of anxiety or fear at the sound of music.
- Play background music while your dog is in a room alone. If the dog becomes anxious, gradually increase the length of time you leave her alone in that room with the music on and only reduce the length of time if your dog shows no signs of stress or fear during that period.
- Try using music to play with your dog. Hold the leash and let the dog pull you as the dog normally does when on a walk, but this time just hold it loosely and let her decide how fast to go. As long as your dog is not afraid of the music playing in some other room or outside where the dog can hear it, gradually increase the length of time you spend playing this way.
- If your dog is anxious about veterinary visits, try introducing her to the car by having someone else take her for a ride while you play some soothing music in the background. Gradually increase the length of time as you begin taking longer and longer rides with your dog and only reduce the amount of time spent riding as your dog gets more and more comfortable with the car.
Should I Leave Music On For My Dog?
Most dogs enjoy the company of music, especially soft classical or new age sounds. It is probably best not to play music for your dog all day long because it can distract her from important activities, such as eating and sleeping. Also, if you find that you are playing music excessively often throughout the day, your dog may become stressed by it.
If you do choose to play music for your dog, remember that young puppies and very old dogs cannot hear as well as adult dogs. Puppies don’t hear all frequencies until they are about three weeks of age, so if you leave music on for them constantly, the volume could damage their hearing.
Very old dogs might become confused by soundscapes that are too complex. If you have any concerns about whether your dog can hear the music you are playing, consult a veterinarian or professional trainer for advice.
Why Use Calming Music For Dogs?
Music is potentially beneficial to your dog in many ways. Not only can it help soothe and relax him, but it also includes the benefits of other methods such as aromatherapy and massage. Some of these include:
- Reduces Anxiety
Music has a physically relaxing effect, which can help decrease anxiety. It reduces levels of cortisol in dogs, a hormone associated with stress and anxiety that causes damage to cells and tissues.
Some studies suggest that music can also boost the immune system because it activates biochemical systems in the body, such as enzymes that protect against disease.
- Reduces Irritability
Music has been found to increase serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical that makes us feel happy, so music can have a positive effect on our mood.
When a dog is in a good mood, the dog will be less likely to be irritable and vice versa. By using calming music to induce a relaxed state, you can help both yourself and your dog feel better.
- Increases Calmness and Relaxation
Music can help your dog relax because it has a repetitive, rhythmic sound that soothes the mind. The brain will automatically revert to a passive resting state if the same sound is heard over and over again.
- Regulated Heart Rate
Music that is 80 beats per minute or slower can help your dog regulate her heartbeat. If you play music at this speed, the heart rate will automatically slow down and bring your dog to a calmer state of mind.
- Increases Pain Threshold for Dogs with Chronic Illnesses
Music can have a huge effect on your dog’s pain threshold. In humans, it has been found that listening to music reduces the sensation of pain, stimulates the part of the brain that deals with pain, and increases serotonin levels. This suggests that music can also have a similar effect on your dog.
What Kind Of Music Do Dogs Like?
It is important to pay attention to your dog’s behavior while the dog is listening, especially if you are just beginning to play music for her. The type of music that works best will be different for every individual dog, so listen to your dog’s reactions carefully.
If the dog is pacing, licking her lips, chewing on furniture, or barking excessively while the music is playing, the dog does not seem to like that particular style of music yet.
- Why Classical Music for Dogs?
Because dogs are most familiar with the types of sounds they hear in their everyday lives, it seems to make sense that they would respond most favorably to music such as classical music. It is known as “new age” or “elevator” music by humans, but dogs experience it differently than we do. Perhaps they feel the beats and hums of these songs in a way that we cannot.
- What Type of Classical Music is Best?
It is important to remember that your dog’s behavior while the dog listens will help determine whether the music you are playing is appropriate. If your dog begins pacing, licking her lips, chewing on furniture, or barking excessively while the music is playing, it does not seem to work well for her yet. You may have to try different styles of music until you discover the type that works best for your individual dog.
Recommended Read: Causes Of Fear And Anxiety In Dogs And Cats. How to Help
Music can be a wonderful way to connect with your pet. But before you play it all day, make sure that the volume is not too high and that you are playing music for shorter periods of time (or at least give them breaks).
You may also want to consult with your veterinarian or animal behaviorist about what kind of music would best suit the needs of your dog’s age and temperament. Have any fun stories where music played an important role in strengthening your bond with Fido? Share them below!