We spoke to two dog experts to find out what they thought about the effect music can have on dogs and their owners, along with a little research of our own.
Music is considered a universal language, with people all around the world enjoying listening to their favourite artists, going to gigs and using music to express their emotions and moods.
But what about animals? Do they respond to different styles and speeds of music? Can music relax and calm them when anxious?
About Dr Sean McCormack
Head Vet at tails.com, Sean worked for over 6 years in clinical practice. Primarily treating dogs and cats, he also has an interest in exotic animals. Sean brings a unique breadth of knowledge on all things canine and understands better than anyone the unique emotional bond between dogs and their owners.
About Carolyn Menteith
Carolyn Menteith has over 20 years’ experience working with dogs as a dog trainer and behaviour expert. She’s passionate about building the very best relationships between dogs and their owners, believing that every dog is unique – and understanding that they each have their own individual personalities.
Carolyn’s role as resident behaviourist at tails.com sees her bring a wealth of expertise from the behaviourist world.
In conversation with Tails.com
Q) tails.com is a well-known name for dog owners all over the country now, but where did it all start and grow from?
Well it all started by looking at the pet food options on offer and realising it was very much ‘one size fits all’, with off the shelf offerings in pet shops and supermarkets. As a group of absolute dog lovers and experts, the founding team wanted to bring a solution that recognised every dog is different and that many had multiple nutritional needs that needed prioritising, not just one. So the idea of truly tailored nutrition was born, getting to know every single one of our customers and their dogs and designing a diet and feeding plan just for them.
That was over 8 years ago now and we’re feeding hundreds of thousands of UK dogs. Our vision is to improve the lives of dogs and their owners and our mission is to have changed the world of pet food for good. We’re well on our way on both counts.
Music and dogs
Q) Have either of you had personal experience / seen the psychological or physical effects music can have with dogs? If so, please explain.
Having visited rescue centres both here in the UK and around the world, there is no doubt that kind of environment can be stressful for dogs – lots of barking, noise, and other external stimulation. The right music – such as light classical, soft rock, easy listening – played at a low level definitely has a calming effect on the dogs. Music can also help dogs who have low level anxiety or stress when in the home as it takes the focus away from unexpected noises coming from outside and replaces it with something calm and predictable.
When running training classes, playing music relaxes the owner too and helps them transform a boring obedience-type exercise into a fun, dance exercise where the dog and owner are working together! When the owner is relaxed and having fun, so is the dog. Training and working with our dogs should be fun and not a chore – and music helps to achieve that.
Q) Carolyn, what does a positive behavioural reaction look like when a dog hears music that it finds calming?
Dogs show how they are feeling through body language – whether excited, fearful, stressed or happy. A calm dog is relaxed and happy to chill out – just like us when we find music calming. Any tail wags are gentle and swaying, ears are relaxed, any wrinkling above their eyes or at the corners of the mouth smooth away, and breathing is steady and gentle.
Q) A visit to the vets can be daunting for both the animals and their owners, aside from music do you have any other tips to ease the stress that it can cause?
Music helps nearly every situation – and even if it doesn’t keep the dogs relaxed, it will keep the owner more relaxed – and anxiety travels down the lead. If a dog thinks their owner – who they look to for safety and guidance – is feeling worried and tense, just imagine how scary that can be!
Vet’s visits can be stressful – especially if the dog only ever goes there for scary things like injections and other invasive treatments. Talking to the vet nurses at the practice and asking them if you can drop in on (pre-arranged!) quiet times just for a treat and a cuddle can do a lot to give a more positive view of vet visits.
Also, reduce the time your dog is sitting in the waiting room – as this is often the most stressful part of a vet visit. If it’s possible, leave them in the car and let the receptionist know you’ve arrived, or take a friend if needs be to hold them outside until the vet is ready for them.
Read the full interview
You can read the full interview with Dr Sean McCormack & Carolyn Menteith of tails.com to find out more about the benefits of playing music could have on your dogs in the link below.
A visit to the vets can be a stressful situation for all animals, not just dogs, and music can be a welcome distraction for both the animal and the anxious owner.
Playing music or the TV in waiting areas, recovery rooms and, where appropriate in treatment rooms could help to make a visit to the vets more enjoyable.
Find out more about the benefits of playing music in your veterinary or animal services business.
Whether it’s organising sweep stakes, setting up the big screen,