By Suzanne Denk, Dip.FBST, Animal Enrichment Specialist
Music may provide relaxation for our pets – just like it can for humans – whether it is light classical music for dogs, nature sounds for cats or soft chimes for rabbits. Every species can benefit from this stress-reducing activity.
There are several benefits music can provide for the overall health and well-being of our pets. Animals have highly attuned hearing and music can have a calming effect for their senses. New sounds in their environment can also reduce boredom for pets who need an activity to keep their minds occupied. Music may even block loud noises that can disturb a pet. For our dog residents at Animal Friends, the effects of music can reduce barking and pacing as a result of stress in the kennels.
But not all music is the same, and when choosing music, you should consider whether there are thumping beats or loud changes in volume. Television and radio commercials come on louder than the main programs and can disrupt stillness. Allow your pet to leave the area if they are not comfortable with the sounds.
There is specially calibrated music available that is designed specifically for pets. The residents at Animal Friends listen to Through a Dog’s Ear, Music My Pet and music selections provided by the Rescue Animal MP3 Project. Choose light musical arrangements and simple instrumentation for the most soothing effects.
Music should be used for short periods of time and not played all day so that pets do not habituate to the music and the sounds still have impact each time it is played. The time of day should also be considered so that the music is relaxing and not just additional noise during a busy time. If the goal is to help an anxious dog, the music should be played before the dog is uncomfortable in order to provide a positive association and relaxation.
Thoughtfully enriching your pet’s environment with sound can provide periods of relaxed calm and a better quality of life, so let the music play!