As a veterinarian with years of experience dealing with various dog behavioral issues, I’ve seen my fair share of anxious dogs. Owners will often do anything to calm their dogs, and one question I often get asked is ‘Does music help dogs with anxiety?’
Dog anxiety is a common issue that affects a dog’s behavior and well-being, with common causes including separation from their owners, loud noises, unfamiliar people, or other animals. Dogs show anxiety in different ways, but some of the common signs include panting, excessive barking, trembling, or a change in appetite.
So, the question arises – does music actually help dogs with anxiety? The answer is yes! In fact, research has shown that music can indeed have a calming effect on dogs, reducing their stress levels and improving their overall behavior.
The Science Behind Music and Dog Anxiety
Just like humans, dogs can be soothed by the calming sound of music. And this isn’t just opinion, there are various scientific studies that support the idea that music can actually help dogs with anxiety in different settings.
- A 2002 study by Wells et al. found that playing classical music reduced dogs’ barking and increased their resting behaviors in a shelter environment.
- Similarly, a 2015 study by Kogan et al. showed that classical music and psychoacoustic music, specifically designed for dogs, lowered dogs’ cortisol levels and increased resting behaviors in a shelter.
- A 2017 study by Bowman et al. discovered that reggae and soft rock music had the most positive effects on dogs’ behavior and physiology in a shelter.
So, what are the possible mechanisms behind these effects? Well, music can effectively mask or distract dogs from stressful stimuli such as thunderstorms, fireworks, or unfamiliar people. It can also provide a sense of familiarity and comfort for our canine friends, especially if they associate certain sounds with positive experiences or people. Another key aspect is that music has the power to match or alter a dog’s emotional state, depending on various factors like tempo, pitch, and tone.
In fact, I’ve personally witnessed the impact of music on dogs dealing with anxiety throughout my career as a vet. I recall a time when a dog under my care in the hospital was suffering from severe separation anxiety. By consistently playing soothing music in the background, I noticed a significant improvement in the dog’s overall behavior and demeanor. So I have no doubt of the therapeutic effects of music for our furry companions.
What Kind of Music Calms Dogs?
So now that we know that music can absolutely have a positive benefit on a dog’s anxiety, how do we know what kind of music to play? Well, as you might imagine, not all music is created equal when it comes to calming an anxious dog. (Sorry death metal lovers, but you might need to put your own music tastes aside for this one!)
Choosing music for dogs might require some experimentation, but there are general guidelines that can help you pick the right tunes for your furry friend.
First, it’s important to avoid music that is too loud, fast, or complex, as it may overstimulate or irritate your dog. Opting for soothing, simple, and consistent music, such as classical, ambient, or soft rock, is usually a better choice for calming your anxious dog. Remember, each dog is unique, so don’t hesitate to experiment with different genres, playlists, or even individual songs to find what works best for your pup.
Interestingly, soft rock and reggae music have been shown to have great effects on calming down dogs in shelters, while classical music is often the best choice in stressful situations. However, just like us, dogs might get ‘bored’ with the same music; after about a week of listening to the same track, the sound becomes more like background noise, losing its calming benefits. So be sure to switch up the artists and genres to ensure your dog has a more varied musical taste!
In my experience, some examples of music specifically designed or recommended for dogs include:
- Through a Dog’s Ear, a series of psychoacoustic music albums that use sound therapy techniques to calm dogs.
- Relax My Dog, a YouTube channel that offers various music and video content to help dogs relax and sleep.
- Spotify’s Pet Playlists, a feature that generates personalized playlists for dogs based on their name, personality, and preferences. It’s a fun way to discover new music for your dog that aligns with their unique personality.
How to Use Music to Calm Your Anxious Dog
Here are some tips when it comes to using music effectively for your dog:
Start playing music before your dog gets anxious
Try to play the music before you leave the house, before a storm, or before guests arrive. This can help prevent or reduce their stress response and put them into a relaxed state before the stress stimulus occurs.
Play music at a moderate volume and in a suitable location
Ensure it’s played clearly and comfortably near your dog’s resting place. Don’t place the source of the music too close to your dog and make sure your dog can see where the music is coming from.
Reward your dog with treats
If it’s your first time playing music with your dog, give them some treats while they listen. That way they’ll learn to associate the auditory stimulus with a positive experience.
Monitor your dog’s reaction to the music and adjust accordingly
Observe your dog while listening to the music, and change the genre, volume, or duration to suit your dog’s needs and preferences.
As a veterinarian, I’ve seen firsthand that music can help dogs with anxiety, but it’s essential to remember that music alone might not be enough to treat your dog’s anxiety entirely. We’ve created a comprehensive guide on how to calm an anxious dog that you can find here:
When to Play Calming Music for Your Dog
There are a variety of situations where calming music can help dogs with anxiety. So, let me share some of these instances for you to better understand when it might be useful to play calming music for your furry friend:
Can calming music cure my dog’s anxiety?
While music can be a valuable tool in helping dogs with separation anxiety, it’s not a cure-all. It’s crucial to combine music therapy with other treatment options, such as training and behavior modification, to help your dog overcome separation anxiety.
Music can help take the edge off certain stressful situations for your dog, and can work wonders in putting them at ease but it does nothing to address the underlying cause of the anxiety. It’s essential to address the root cause of the anxiety and work on building your dog’s confidence and independence. In my practice, I often recommend 11 effective techniques on how to calm an anxious dog. These strategies can help ease your pet’s anxiety and promote their well-being.
Keep in mind, every dog is different, and what works for one may not work for another. It’s essential to be patient with your furry friend and find the right combination of methods to help them cope with their anxiety. And remember, as a loving pet owner, your commitment and support play a significant role in helping your dog overcome stress and anxiety.
In determining whether music helps dogs with anxiety, the answer appears to be a resounding yes. However, it is crucial to consider each dog’s preferences and the qualities of the music that may be calming. Music specifically designed for dogs, containing frequencies only audible to them, could be more effective in providing relief. Additionally, classical music has been found to have soothing effects on dogs, fostering a more relaxed state.
Although music has proven beneficial, it may not be a universal solution for every dog’s anxiety. For those with severe or persistent anxiety, I recommend seeking professional help or advice. Nonetheless, I encourage you to explore various music-centered approaches to mitigating your dog’s anxiety. Some helpful starting points may include listening to calming music for dogs apps or browsing online resources mentioned in this article.
If you’re trying any of these methods, don’t hesitate to share your experience and feedback with fellow dog owners. Together, we can learn more about the benefits and limitations of using music to improve our canine companions’ quality of life.
What type of music can help reduce a dog’s anxiety?
Studies have found that certain types of music can indeed help alleviate anxiety in dogs. Generally, the tempo, length of the musical notes, simplicity of tones, and regular rhythms are the most important calming qualities. Dogs react positively to reggae or classical music, or tunes specially designed for them.
Can playing music improve dogs’ comfort during separation?
Playing familiar or calming music can indeed help dogs cope with separation anxiety. When the owners are away, music can act as comforting background noise and help distract your furry friend from feelings of stress. However, it’s essential to make sure the music isn’t too loud or alarming for your dog’s sensitive ears.
Is it effective to use music for calming dogs during fireworks?
Playing calming music for dogs during fireworks can be effective in reducing their anxiety. The soothing sounds can drown out the loud noises, making them feel more relaxed.
Does crate training become easier with the aid of music?
In some cases, yes. Incorporating calming music into the crate training process can help dogs feel more at ease. When the right kind of music is playing, it can create a soothing atmosphere that encourages relaxation. This might make it easier for your pup to adjust to their new space. However, as always, it’s essential to pay attention to your dog’s individual needs and preferences.
Do certain music genres have better results for soothing dogs?
Dogs tend to react differently to various music genres. Some research suggests that classical music or music created specifically for dogs can have a calming effect. Dogs generally respond better to softer, mellower tunes as opposed to loud, fast-paced music. However, it’s essential to observe your dog’s response to different music genres to determine the best fit for them.
Which is preferred by dogs: music or silence?
This largely depends on the dog’s individual personality. Some dogs might prefer the soothing sounds of music, while others might seek comfort in silence. It’s crucial to pay attention to your pet’s behavior and preferences, adjusting their environment accordingly to ensure their overall well-being.