Dogs may not be able to speak English and express their feelings, but they go through the same emotions as us people do. Dogs can be happy, excited, sad, mad, and more. They can also be anxious, and they can have anxiety issues, just like people. Your dog might get upset when you leave the house, for example, or he may get scared during a thunderstorm. Canine anxiety is a very real and somewhat common issue.
How can you help soothe the anxiety of your dog? One thing that works for some humans is to listen to soothing, calming music. Does the same thing work for dogs? Many dog experts say yes, it does. Here are some tips and suggestions for using music for your dog’s anxiety.
In order for music to help calm your pooch, he needs to associate the music with calmness, positivity, and safety. Music that is typically calming to humans can work for dogs, too, and there are also special CDs with calming music designed especially for dogs. When you decide on the music, play it at least five times for your dog while he is in a calm, happy state of mind. This will help him associate the music with feeling good. The music should be loud enough to be heard above background noises but not too loud – as softly as possible while still being heard.
If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, music can help prepare him and calm him for your departure. When you are going to leave the house, begin playing your dog’s music about 20 minutes before you go, and it will help calm them to better deal with the separation anxiety. At first, try doing this and returning after only two or three minutes. Next time, leave for five minutes, and gradually increase the amount of time you’re away to help your dog adjust.
Many dogs are meant to be protectors for their owners, but dogs get scared, too. Lots of dogs are scared of loud noises in particular, and some things that often upset dogs are thunderstorms and fireworks. In these or other scary situations, begin playing the music for your dog as soon as they begin. If you know about fireworks beforehand, start playing the music about 20 minutes before. If a storm comes on suddenly, begin playing the music when it starts.
If you go on vacation or have another reason to board your dog at the kennel, it can be a particularly difficult time for him in adjusting to being away from you, being in a new environment, and possibly being around other noisy dogs. You can try bringing a portable CD player that can be kept in your dog’s kennel so that he can listen to his music and hopefully feel a little better.
Finally, remember that your emotions affect your dog. If you are feeling and acting stressed out or anxious, your dog will feel anxious, too, so be aware of that. If you’re in a bad mood and need to relax, chances are it’s a good time to put your dog’s music on for him and you both.
Matt Martial is the author of several guitar music books. He lives in Palm Springs with his wife Jennifer and his dog Jones.