Separation anxiety has become a common issue in many dogs, and it needs to be treated by their owners/handlers accordingly. Whining, barking, chewing furniture or shoes, when the owner leaves the house are typical symptoms, that disclose the presence of this condition. There are different approaches that can be applied to these kinds of situations in order to mitigate the symptoms of separation anxiety. In some articles we let you know about different behavioral issues in dogs, provided tips on how to solve them, and informed you about some simple methods, that are likely to calm your dog down, i.e.: wrapping them in a warm blanket or in an old T-shirt, massaging them, playing them classical music.
In today’s article, we would like to pay special attention to one of these techniques and namely- playing your dog classical music for a calming effect. This calming technique may be overlooked by some owners, as playing classical music is a simple approach usually applied to humans, not dogs, and is not so popular as other training techniques. We want to provide you with some deeper knowledge of the effect that classical music has on dogs and the way that the process goes.
Animals and Perception of Sounds
Most of you are likely to be familiar with the fact that animals respond to sound frequencies in a different way. It may be interesting for you to know that Psychoacoustics is the branch of psychophysics that includes audiology (how sounds are perceived) and the scientific study of sound perception. In particular, this is a segment of science that studies the psychological responses to sound. Some scientists have been conducting research to understand how sounds in the surrounding affect animal behavior. Different scientific approaches have been applied so that we can understand how domestic animals that have anxiety react to sounds. If you notice that your paw friend is too energetic and vigilant you may want to know that one of the possible causes are sounds of too low or too high frequencies. Scientists have removed the frequencies that are too high or too low in specially designed music so that it can have a calming effect on dogs.
Lets’ Talk About Science- What Actually Happens When Calming Music Is Being Played to Dogs
Many brain parts participate in the process including the limbic system and the auditory cortex. Some scientists believe that relaxing sounds lead to psychological processes that occur in the autonomic system. The autonomic nervous system has two components: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic system triggers the so-called fight-or-flight response and gives energy that the body needs to be able to respond to a harmful event, threat or attack. On the other hand, the parasympathetic system is responsible for the functions of the body when an individual is at rest, i.e.: relaxing the body, stimulating digestion, and metabolism. The heart rate of canines who are relaxed is slower and they rest easily. Moreover, relaxed dogs are not likely to use vocalization that is often a sign of stress, anxiety, and attention-seeking. The levels of cortisol, known as the hormone of stress, contained in the blood are likely to decrease in both humans and animals after classical music has been played.
Why Does Classical Music, in Particular, Have Such a Calming Effect on Dogs?
Actually, not only classical music but also soft rock and reggae are considered suitable genres to calm down our furry friends. The tempo of these genres is likely to be 50-60 beats per minute. A slower tempo leads to relaxation, compared to a faster tempo that may increase the levels of stress and anxiety. The tempo of genres like heavy metal is considered unsuitable for dogs, as it is likely to disturb the state of peace and calm in them.
What Should You Consider When Playing Classical or Any Kind of Calming Music to Your Dog?
According to researches stress and anxiety in dogs increase after they have listened to the same kind of music for a week. This means that you will need to change the stations from time to time in order to keep the positive effect. A good mix between classical music, soft rock, and some reggae may be the most suitable option.
Situations When Playing Music With a Calming Effect Is Recommended
As we mentioned at the beginning of the article your doggy may experience difficulties being left home alone. How to alleviate the symptoms of separation anxiety is one of the questions that many handlers want to be answered. Regardless of where your furry friend is- in his/her crate, play area, sleeping area...etc., playing one of the genres listed above will help him/her relax and enjoy a quality rest time. However, you need to remember that you should play calming music to your dog not only when you are about to leave the house but when you are present as well. Otherwise, your furry friend is likely to start associating the music with your absence. Instead of providing a calming effect on him/her, you may unwillingly increase his/her stress levels.
Many dogs over-react when they are going to visit a veterinary clinic. Often handlers need to deal with whining, barking and restlessness that may affect other animals in the clinic. Playing calming music prior or during the exam may help your doggy relax.
Similar to the effect that genres with faster tempo have on dogs is the effect of fireworks, thunderstorms or even devices at home that you use on a daily basis. Loud noises usually lead to tension in dogs and listening to music with a slower tempo in the proper frequency range may mitigate the stress.
Too Energetic Dogs
Is your canine hyper-vigilant? If your furry friend does not fall asleep easily you may want to try playing some calming music to him. Of course, you should not forget, that dogs, especially the representatives of certain breeds like the Border Collie, the Jack Russell Terrier, Bernese Mountain Dog, Australian Shepherd...etc., need a lot of exercise and games in order to spend an excessive amount of energy. So, playing music for calming effect should be only an additional tool for hyper-vigilance management.
Riding in Vehicles
Sometimes you may need to travel with your dog, especially if he/she is a service dog. In case that your furry friend shows signs of stress and anxiety when riding in a car or another type of vehicle, relaxing music may help him/her enjoy the trip.
Playing classical music as well as reggae and soft rock may be used as an easy and smart trick to cover some distracting noises. If your paw friend reacts to outdoor noises through excessive barking, you may want to “cover” those by playing music with a calming effect.
Creating a Positive Attitude
Your dog may not deal with any of the issues mentioned above. If this is the case, you may wonder if you need to play classical or other types of calming music to your dog. The answer is “Yes”. Of course, this is not mandatory, but it would help your canine, especially at a young age, get used to new sounds in the environment in a positive way.