Through a Dog's Ear: Music therapy goes to the dogs
You heard right. It’s music arranged for dogs and orchestrated to ease their stress. It’s being employed specifically in veterinary settings where barking dogs, discomfort and pain are the rule. Psychoacoustic researchers and holistic veterinary practitioners swear by it.
An interesting collaboration between a sound researcher Joshua Leeds, a veterinary neurologist Susan Wagner DVM (no relation to the master, I presume), Juilliard trained musicologist Lisa Spector and the Apollo Chamber Ensemble has led to a novel therapy for stressed dogs. Discussion of the research, a book and recordings are available at throughadogsear.com.
Dogs are a species uniquely attuned to audio cues. As such, they may well benefit as much from music therapy in hospital settings as humans do—or more. Though human music therapy is still spotty in its use, its acceptance is broad and its popularity is surging.
Human studies conclusively find that pain and anxiety level reduction both result from peri-procedural implementation of music therapy. Benefits are also significant for ventilated patients and for those who have suffered brain injuries, presumably helping reestablish neural connections lost to trauma.
So why not bring it to the dogs?
Narda Robinson DVM, complementary medicine columnist for Veterinary Practice News urges us to consider it. “More than merely a relaxant, music causes changes in brain activity, neurohumoral, cardiovascular and immune responses…”
Of course, home settings are not exempt from stress or wellness needs either. Thunderstorms, new pet interactions and generalized anxiety are increasingly evident in our pets as we become more finely attuned to their angst and seek new ways to assuage it. And what better for those first days post-hospitalization or surgery?
In fact, turning off the television (a confirmed stressor and recently cited in happiness studies as detrimental to human contentment) and tuning in to the strains of a chamber music ensemble may be just the ticket for all of us. Check it out. As a classical music lover and ex-‘cellist I know I’ll be ordering my recording ASAP.