If you have a dog suffering from anxiety, you know all about the problems it can bring. And when you research what you can do to help, one option you’ll constantly hear about is music—more specifically, classical music.
But does classical music help a dog relax? The answer is yes, and there are quite a few scientific studies that back this up.1 But it’s not all about classical music, and you can’t just keep classical music on all the time to help calm down your pup.
It’s not a guaranteed cure for a pup’s anxiety, but it’s certainly a tool you should know all about if you have an anxious dog.
Does Classical Music Help Dogs Relax?
Yes! Not only can classical music help dogs relax, but classical music is one of the best types of music to help calm your dog down. And it’s not just us saying; there are numerous studies out there that back up these findings.
These studies include a 2002 study by Dr. Deborah Wells, a 2005 study by Dr. Susan Wagner, a 2012 study by Lori Kogan, and even a 2017 study with reggae and soft rock. The Scottish SPCA also conducted a study exposing dogs to classical music while in a shelter, and they noticed a calming effect there, too.
However, they noticed the effect fades after about a day, leading researchers to think variety is key when trying to maximize the calming effect. Mix up the music and the effect should last longer, but if the dog relegates the music to background noise, it won’t have the same calming effect.
While other types of music can help calm a dog down, classical, reggae, and soft rock music tend to have the most calming effects.2
When to Play Calming Music for Dogs
Because dogs can start to tune out music, you want to be a little selective about when you play it for them. One of the first times you should probably expose your dog to music is when you take them home for the first time.
It’s a stressful time as they try to settle into a new environment, and having some calming background noise for them can go a long way in settling them down.
Next, if your dog suffers from separation anxiety, putting on some music while you’re away can help. Just remember that they’ll start to tune out familiar noises, so mixing up the playlist frequently, or at least putting it on shuffle, can help with this.
Finally, if you know your dog is about to enter a situation they find stressful, music might help. This might mean putting on some songs before a trip to the vet, or during just about any other event they don’t like. The key is identifying when your dog is feeling some stress and then putting some music on to try and help calm them down.
3 Other Ways to Calm Your Dog Down
Classical music can be a great way to calm your dog down before, during, and after a stressful event. But it’s far from the only technique you can use. We recommend pairing music with as many of the following techniques as possible to help tame your dog’s anxiety.
Exercise does wonders for a person’s anxiety, so it’s no wonder it works so well for dogs too. Whether you’re getting ready for a long car ride with them, having a party at your house, or you’re just heading to work for the day, exercising your dog beforehand can help keep them calm.
Long walks or even runs are often the best routes to go with this, but vigorous games of fetch can meet their exercise needs as well.
2. Physical Contact
If your dog is stressed out and trusts you, one of the best things you can do to help calm them down is to pet and touch them. Petting them, holding them, or making physical contact with them can make a big difference in their anxiety levels.
The key is to make physical contact with them in a way they like. If they don’t like you picking them up, don’t do that. Instead, find a type of contact that they enjoy and it’ll help keep them calm.
3. Calming Shirts & Coats
If you’re looking for a product that can help with your dog’s anxiety levels, anxiety shirts, and calming coats are the way to go. These are essentially a type of weighted blanket that your dog can wear.
Not every dog likes these products, but most do. They have approval from the AKC and various vets. They swaddle your dog and make them feel safe, and most dogs appreciate this.
You don’t want to overdo it with classical music, but if you know a stressful situation is coming up with your dog, putting on some music can help keep them calm. Just come up with a varied playlist for them, and don’t put it on all the time or your dog will start to tune it out.