Anxiety is a common trait in humans. In recent years, it has been heavily researched and discussed on huge platforms. Then why would our best friends be any different? Several dogs also suffer from anxiety. This blog hopes to shine a light on your dog’s anxiety problems and how music can help.
There can be several causes for this— whether the anxiety is temporary and prolonged. Abandonment or previous bad environments are generally among leading causes. Many double-coated dogs also suffer from separation anxiety, if kept away from their owners for a long time.
Studies on this trait have been on a steady rise in the last few years. Many veterinarians and social workers have suggested different techniques on how to calm an anxious dog, amongst which music is a novel but effective method currently being promoted.
Before we get into the details of what kind of music dogs like, let us first understand anxiety in dogs better.
Does my dog suffer from anxiety?
Before you can consider treatment for them, you need to understand the severity of their distress. You also need to be able to identify symptoms of anxiety in your double-coated dog.
The trait may exhibit itself in a variety of styles, from whining and barking to trembling and weeping. A dog might become hostile or disruptive when distressed.
If the symptoms go unnoticed, some dogs can even lose their appetites or withdraw completely from everyone.
Apart from abandonment and neglect, fear of staying home alone, traveling, and loud noises can also cause anxiety. Being around children, unfamiliar people, or, even, other pets can also be distressing for dogs.
Consider the next questions to determine if your dog suffers from anxiety. Does your dog get startled by thunder? Does your double-coated dog feel separation anxiety? Do they cower away from loud noises in the neighbourhood?
If your answer to any of these questions is yes, you might want to consider playing some soothing music for them, you can even invest in a white noise generator to help your dog feel relaxed.
Does music help calm my dog?
A quick search, on Google or any major music streaming platform, will bring up playlists of songs to help calm your anxious dog. Spotify has an entire channel dedicated to dog music and music for other pets.
But you may be wondering if this technique works or if it is just another form of the product onslaught we experience from companies daily. You are, of course, right to worry about this. Your pet needs all the care you can give it.
According to a study by the University of Glasgow in Scotland (1), music does have a calming effect on dogs.
The researchers created 5 different playlists of distinct genres— pop, classical, reggae, soft rock, and Motown— to play for the dogs. The researchers then recorded their stress as each playlist was playing, considering both physical and behavioural factors.
The 2017 study also states that different dogs respond to different genres of music differently (much like us humans). But there were consistent patterns recorded, as all the music played seemed to have a comforting effect. Of the five genres played, three (classical, soft rock, and reggae) had a more visibly calming effect on most dogs.
Several other studies have shown that dogs spend a long time resting while listening to classical music while they tend to bark more when listening to heavy metal.
Dogs generally tend to prefer soothing music, which means your double-coated dogs are likely to respond better to Mozart than they are to Motorhead.
Classical music has lower frequencies and helps soothe your dogs’ nervous system. The music causes a listener, human or canine, to start passive listening from active listening. When the owner calms down, the dogs also respond to these changes.
Research shows that dogs that listen to music at animal shelters exhibit lower stress levels. They bark less and have lower respiratory rates. They even record lower levels of cortisol i.e the stress hormone.
The effect of music on human emotions has been a heavily researched topic in psychology for many years. Music therapy is a commonly used remedy for people who suffer from anxiety disorders. So, it is an obvious conclusion that the same theory can be applied to dogs as well.
A combination of the genres mentioned above (pop, classical, reggae, soft rock, and Motown) is the most effective method for anxiety relief in dogs.
Try out different combinations and mixes to find out which your dog responds to the best. Even dogs can get bored listening to the same kind of music for an extended time.
Play some Beethoven and Bob Marley, or some Eagles and Beatles for your double-coated dog and observe which they prefer. Some artists online have also composed music specifically to treat anxious dogs.
Music can also help a new puppy sleep through the night. It can also help a dog adjust to their new homes. Dogs generally prefer songs with a simple tone, slower tempo, and regular rhythm.
A few tips for dog owners:
If you are wondering exactly when to play music for your dogs, here’s a list of ideal situations to use music therapy:
- For helping your new puppy or dog adjust to their new home
- During thunderstorms or when there are fireworks outside
- During medical examinations at the vet
- To help them fall asleep if they are restless
- During lengthy travels
If your double-coated dog suffers from separation anxiety, try playing music when you are around initially. Once they get used to it, playing music when you are not around will help them adjust. Otherwise, they may associate the music with your leaving the house and it may end up being a trigger for their anxiety instead.
Anxiety in dogs is a very real problem, and if music can help calm your dog down, then it’s worth a try.