To understand how a pet CD can be enjoyable and relaxing to an animal, it helps to think of the way humans use music. For us, it is an emotional control device. Party people listen to loud music to get in an ‘up’ mood, lovers listen to violin music to feel romantic and monks use chants to create an air of sanctity. In each case, music is being used not just to express a mood, but to invite and promote it.
Science has shown that this response happens at a deep, physiological level. People listening to calming music experience a drop in blood pressure and heart rate (Chlan et al., 2000) decrease of pain perception (Nelson et al., 2008) and a drop in need for sedating medication (Nelson et al., 2008).
These interesting results in humans have led veterinary researchers to wonder whether the same results might occur in other species. Volume seven of the 2012 Journal of Veterinary Behavior carried a report by Kogan, Schoenfeld-Tacher and Simon titled ‘Behavioral Effects of Auditory Stimulation on Kenneled Dogs’ concerning a study in which dogs were exposed to periods of music including heavy metal and classical styles. Measuring accepted signs of canine distress such as barking and body shaking, the researchers concluded that classical music had a relaxing, emotionally calming effect on the dogs while heavy metal had the opposite effect.
This report corroborates anecdotal evidence observed by harpist Marcia Dickstein while she practiced her instrument. Every day at practice time, her dogs gathered in the room of their own accord and fell asleep. Suspecting that the dogs were responding to the music, Ms. Dickstein embarked on a project with recording producer Frederick Vogler to make Chill Dog, a relaxing pet CD for dogs experiencing anxiety from separation or unfamiliarity. It promotes calm, relaxation and pleasant drowsiness in the dog, and owners also find it very enjoyable.