Healing Music and Sounds for Pets

Healing Music and Sounds for Pets

Imagine being able to play music or specific sounds that will help your animals quiet down.

Did you know that early music therapy research in the 20th Century was routinely done on animals?

Given these two hints, you have probably guessed that music and sounds affect animals very similarly to humans. And, they have their preferences, too!

The body of research clearly demonstrates that anxious animals like slow, classical music, i.e., music that is 60-72 beats per minute, with simple melodies and harmonies. The most recent research from California adds one other element: piano. Dogs prefer their classical music played on the piano.

Inner Harmony has just produced their latest CD which is based on all of this research. Pianist Robert Bonham, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Maryville College, performs classical music that pets and humans can relax to.
Playing a pre-release copy of “Music to Mellow Your Mutt,” L. Schmied observed: “I put on the CD for 2 anxious dogs and a cat and within 3 minutes all were laying down in front of the speakers calmly listening!” This CD is also designed to be calming for dog owners and young children. It can be used in the background while preparing and eating meals, commuting, or when going to sleep. The calmer you are, the less anxious your pet will be.

To hear and excerpt and to order: Mellow Your Mutt

How Sound Heals

Sound energy, in the form of mechanical waves, is transformed, as it enters through the ear, into electrical impulses, which travel through the network of connective tissue to all parts of the body. The systems of the body, whose resonant quality matches the motifs used, respond through sympathetic resonance.

Live Harp Music & Animals

Boone, A., & Quelch, V. (2003). Effects of harp music therapy on canine patients in the veterinary hospital setting. The Harp Therapy Journal, 8(2), 1, 4-5,15.
[Three groups of 32 canine patients received 60 minute sessions of harp therapy (Group 1: hospitalized less than 8 hrs.; Group 2: hospitalized longer than 8 hrs.; and Group 3: post-surgical patients). Visual measures of discomfort: restlessness, anxiety and respiration; all decreased during the harp therapy session. The control group displayed no such increase and, in fact, continued to increase in all three measures. The harp therapy group demonstrated a gradual decline in respiration rates over the on-hour in contrast to the control group – which remained unchanged during the same period. Both groups demonstrated a shallow trend in reduction of heart rate.]

1. Wells, D. L., et al. “The Influence of Auditory Stimualtion on the Behaviour of Dogs Housed in a Rescue Shelter.” Animal Welfare 11 (2002): 385-393
2. Wagner, S., et al. BioAcoustic Research & Development Canine Research Summary (2004).

Dr. Deborah Wells, Belfast, Ireland In 2002, Belfast-based psychologist and animal behaviorist Deborah Wells undertook a research program to determine the influence of five types of auditory stimulation: human conversation, classical music, heavy metal music, pop music, and a silent control (no music at all).

From Dr. Wells’s study, we came to understand that classical music had a marked soothing effect on dogs in animal shelters when compared to the other types of auditory stimulation. In the discussion section of her published research, Dr. Wells stated, “Classical music resulted in dogs spending more of their time resting than any of the other experimental conditions of auditory stimulation. This type of music also resulted in a significantly lower level of barking. Research suggests that calming music may have a beneficial effect on humans, resulting in diminished agitation, improved mood and lower levels of stress. Although the specific effect of classical music on dogs remains unknown, the findings from this study suggest that it may, as in humans, have a calming influence.” She concluded that heavy metal agitated the dogs, indicated by increased frequencies of standing and barking, and that neither human conversation nor pop music had any apparent effect on the dog’s behaviors, perhaps due to habituation to radio exposure.

Dr. Wells stated, “Further work is still required to unravel the specific acoustic elements that dogs respond to.” That challenge inspired us to take our bioacoustic research where no one had gone before.

An Arizona Animal Welfare League has started playing classical music to calm animals at its no-kill shelter.

The music comes courtesy of Scottsdale residents Scott Goldberg and Hannah Romberg, who paid for the installation and service for the Muzak system that provides the music continuously via satellite, said Cheryl Weiner, the league’s Vice President.

Goldberg said he noticed the calming effect of music on his two cats and two dogs, and he wanted to extend the service to the shelter animals.

There are other benefits.

“The dogs bark less and are more relaxed when people visit the shelter,” Weiner said. “Visitors stay longer and spend more time with animals, so more may be adopted.”

Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 January 2006, 11:06 GMT
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Bach soothes animals at shelter
The dogs prefer classical music to pop or dance, staff said
An RSCPA rescue centre has installed a £2,000 sound system to play soothing classical music to stressed dogs.

Staff at the kennels in West Hatch, near Taunton, Somerset, said they now hear Bach rather than barks.

The animals are said to respond well to the strains of Beethoven and Mozart, but are not fans of pop or dance music.

Deputy manager Anita Clarke said: “It’s a very stressful environment for the dogs to be in here, so anything that can help is worth a go.”

The cost of the music system was met through fundraising by the Friends of West Hatch.

Whale sounds and panpipes are also played and sometimes radio output so the animals get used to hearing people talking.

Ms Clarke said: “Music is proven to have a calming effect on both animals and people.

“It definitely works. It’s quieter in the kennels now because if one dog barks when it’s quiet they all start but if music’s playing they don’t.”