Research has shown that animal behavior is influenced by sounds – both bad and good ones.
While the sound of a leaf blower may make your dog bark and pace, a sound such as a familiar car pulling in the driveway may have a total calming effect.
Unfortunately, today’s technology brings with it a host of noise that your dog would be happy to do without. The sounds of cars, motorcycles, lawn mowers, alarm clocks, telephones, blenders and coffee bean grinders are enough to cause sensory overload.
Sound researcher Joshua Leeds, who co-authored a book about using sound to improve a dog’s behavior and health with Susan Wagner, a veterinary neurologist, said, “Music is one way to control and mediate the sound environment.”
Research is showing that music therapy for dogs is one means of helping dogs with behavioral problems to overcome them. One reason for this is that a dog’s internal organs speed up or slow down according to the external rhythms and vibrations they are exposed to. This process is referred to as entrainment. While dogs may not tap their feet in time to the music, their bodies do respond in much the same way as those of humans.
Recent studies in England and the United States have shown that classical music is one the best styles of music if you’re looking to calm Rover. Although they may not nod their heads in time to the music, most dogs respond in a good way. Their blood pressure and heart rate are reduced. Brainwaves slow down in response to classical music. The same studies have indicated that a half-hour of classical musical is the equivalent to about 10mg of Valium.
On the other hand, upbeat music will tend to cause the dog’s blood pressure and heart rate to rise. It is more likely to cause the dog to become antsy and restless.
Experts in the field of music research are suggesting that music can calm a dog that is suffering from separation anxiety or having a meltdown due to a thunderstorm, so dig out the Mozart tunes.
The optimum tempo of calming music is 50 to 60 beats per minute. One study showed that a piano solo played at this speed had a profound effect on the calmness and relaxation of 80 percent of the dogs tested in a home environment. More than 50 percent of the dogs actually fell asleep. The same test done in a kennel environment ended with 70 percent of the dogs being calmed by the sound of the piano solo.
There are several companies that sell music therapy CDs for dogs that are experiencing behavioral problems such as separation anxiety or terror at the sound of thunder. Local pet stores and online sources offer an array to choose from.
Another good option is to look through your own CD collection for some mellow tunes. Whether it is classical or Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sounds of Silence,” it is worth trying out the idea. What do you have to lose?