Published: July 2021 | Updated: June 2023
Do thunderstorms or fireworks make your dog nervous? Is it possible that your dog experiences bouts of separation anxiety? Does she get anxious when she hears noises outside? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, music and other calming sounds for dogs could come in handy.
Calming Music for Dogs
Yes, we said calming music for dogs. If you've ever noticed your dog reacting positively to a certain song on the radio or calming down in response to a soothing melody, you've witnessed the therapeutic power of music.
Recent studies have shown certain types of music can result in a soothing effect on our furry companions. In recent research, music has been demonstrated to alleviate stress in dogs in animal shelters in particular, with less barking, reduced respiratory rates, and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
This could not only be helpful for our stressed dogs in confined environments, but also for our dogs experiencing anxiety in their daily lives. And, when you take a moment to think about it, it’s really not overly surprising. Music therapy is utilized as a natural anti-anxiety medication to aid in the treatment of sleep issues in humans, so why wouldn’t it prove beneficial to our dogs as well in these times of need?
What Kind of Music is Calming for Dogs?
You can use music to help your dog relax and feel more tranquil – but hold on! Certain types of music have been shown to be more relaxing for dogs than others.
The most relaxing music for dogs in shelters has been shown to be reggae and soft rock; however, classical music can also help calm canines in stressful situations. When dogs are exposed to music at a pace of 50-60 beats per minute, they appear to relax, and these types of music tend to have this pace.
The most effective way to relieve anxiety and tension appears to be to mix up the genres indicated above. Dogs become accustomed to the background noise after roughly 7 days of the same type of music and begin to show signs of agitation. Switch up which stations you leave on for your dog, letting him listen to a mixture of soft rock, classical, and reggae.
There is also music produced solely for dogs, whether for general anxiety, separation anxiety, thunder phobia, or helping a new puppy adjust to his or her surroundings and sleep through the night.
Although dogs have diverse tastes, the length of musical notes, the simplicity of tones, consistent rhythms, and the pace of the music are the most significant relaxing aspects when it comes to the type of music used for calming.
As with any anxiety management technique, it's important to observe your dog's individual response and adjust accordingly. Not all dogs will respond the same way to the same music, so some experimentation may be needed to find the music that your dog prefers.
When to Play Calming Pet Music
There are various situations, as discussed briefly above, where calming music can be utilized to calm an anxious dog. Additional situations where it could prove helpful include:
- When you bring home a new puppy or dog from a shelter, breeder, or rescue organization
- When you have guests or visitors if your dog becomes anxious with company
- While you’re away whether your dog is free-roaming or in her crate/kennel
- During thunderstorms or intense periods of rain
- While riding in the car if your dog has motion sickness or travel anxiety
It's important to note that if you are going to be using music for a dog with separation anxiety, you'll want to ensure you play the music both while you're home and when you're away. If the music is only played while you are gone, your dog will associate the music with your separation, and it could become a negative experience rather than a calming, positive one.
Additional Ways to Reduce Dog Anxiety
In addition to calming noises for dogs, there are several other recommendations that may help reduce your dog’s anxiety, including:
- Exercise: Don't overlook the critical nature of exercise for dogs' physical and emotional wellbeing. You should always ensure that your dog receives adequate exercise, but it can also serve as a means of reducing anxiety. For example, taking your dog for a morning walk prior to leaving if she has separation anxiety will help to tire her out. Remember, a tired dog is a happy dog.
- Aromatherapy: Certain scents like lavender can have a calming effect on dogs. Always make sure the essential oils you use are safe for dogs.
- Create Safe Spaces: A quiet, secluded space in your home where your dog can retreat when feeling anxious can provide a sense of security. This could be their own den, like a crate, a closet, or a bedroom away from the business of the house.
- Massage and Physical Contact: Petting or gently massaging your dog can release endorphins and promote feelings of relaxation and well-being.
- Maintain Routine: Dogs thrive on routine. Consistent meal times, walks, and playtimes can provide a sense of structure that eases anxiety.
- Calming Wraps or Vests: These apply gentle, constant pressure, which can have a calming effect on many dogs, similar to swaddling a baby.
- Behavioral Training: Positive reinforcement and counter-conditioning techniques can be useful for changing your dog's reaction to anxiety-triggering stimuli.
- Natural Supplements: Supplements containing CBD can assist in reducing your dog’s anxiety. Supplements like Canine Cush can also aid in joint health and reduce inflammation, in addition to providing a calming effect.
- Control Your Own Emotions: Your dog is looking to you for indications on how to react. If you are frightened or sad, your dog will pick up on these emotional cues and reflect them. Before you know it, you've fueled the nervous behavior rather than alleviating it.
Reducing Anxiety in Your Dog
Numerous strategies can be used to alleviate your dog's nervousness. For example, calming music for dogs has been proven to be incredibly beneficial in reducing tension and anxiety.
Along with calming music, natural supplements, exercise, and managing your own emotions, you can significantly enhance your dog's emotional state.