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Roll Over Beethoven: Music To Calm Your Dog

Tuesday, October 08, 2013


Inspired by Soundcheck producer Katie Bishop's tale of canine separation anxiety woe, today on the show we attempt to get to the bottom of the question -- can music help a dog in distress? 

We hear from a NYC Animal Care & Control behavior supervisor, Jennifer Abrams, about why the organization recently started piping music into their shelters -- and we talk with veterinarian Dr. Pamela Fisher, who started the Rescue Animal MP3 Project, which sends MP3 players loaded with specially designed calming music to shelters like New York City's. 

Plus, we talk with sound researcher and music producer Joshua Leeds, who produces the commercially available "Through A Dog's Ear" music therapy program. He explains what dogs actually hear, and what exactly it is about music that can calm dogs, and why more scientific research is needed in the animal music therapy field. 

Soundcheck listeners: What's your experience been like with music and your pets? Do you leave music on for them when you're not home? Leave a comment below or call 866 939 1612. 


Jessica Abrams, Pamela Fisher and Joshua Leeds

Produced by:

Katie Bishop

Comments [13]

Lee Harrington

Bark magazine published a short blog on the benefits of sound healing for anxious dogs. This piece includes a terrific list of recommended music.

Nov. 06 2013 03:52 PM
Jan Davis

When I first adopted my Zoe I found her staring at the radio when ever Frank Sinatra was on. I bought her a CD and would play it when I was leaving. Over time she lost interest but when she was coming out of her shell of shelter hell Frank helped.

Oct. 10 2013 07:49 AM
Elizabeth from New York

I always leave some sound on, whether the Tv with constant human voices, My dog appears to be apolitical, or music, WQXR, if I am gone for a longer period. I have not used a control group so I don't if he would be more anxious without sound. He has not indicated any musical preferences so I will assume my tastes are his tastes. Imprinting!! I will ask my vet on our next visit.

Oct. 09 2013 12:56 PM
Kim Grande from Rockland Cty, NY

I actually play "Through a Dog's Ear" for my dog at home when she is left alone and I also have the music downloaded into my car so I can play it there to soothe her. It has really helped; when she first started going for car rides she was often very agitated but I started playing this CD and she calmed down. Today, at 1 year of age, she is the best passenger. She loves going for rides and is super relaxed.

Oct. 09 2013 11:18 AM
Ann Dolan from now, Asheville, NC

When I lived in Ct. my friends wondered why my two Goldens were so calm. Well, when I went to work I had them listen to WQXR on my Bose!

Oct. 09 2013 10:50 AM
Arthur Lipski from Talent, Oregon

Many people misunderstand the use of a "crate" with a personal canine. Katie Bishop AND suzinne999 from Bronx fall into this category.

Crate training is intended to introduce a safe, comfortable, interesting, and predictable place for a dog. It is NOT supposed to be a penalty or a substitute for human control. The crate must be introduced to the dog Crate training uses a dog's natural instincts as a den animal. A wild dog's den is his home, a place to sleep, hide from danger, and raise a family. The crate becomes your dog's den, an ideal spot to snooze or take refuge during a thunderstorm.
Check out:

Oct. 09 2013 10:50 AM
Pamela Fisher, DVM from North Canton, OH

Rescue Animal Mp3 Project, non-profit, donates Calming Music FREE-OF-CHARGE to animal shelters. Mp3 players are filled with 30 hours pre-recorded music that is specifically designed to provide a calmer environment. Animals are better able to cope with the stress of shelter environments, and in turn, this improves their quality of life and increases their chance of acquiring forever homes. The music is playing in more than 700 shelters in 50 states, calming over 75,000 shelter animals daily, with very positive feedback. Evaluation comments from dog wardens and humane society directors proclaim less anxious/boredom behaviors, separation anxiety, storm phobias, aggression and squabbles, along with improved consistent appetites, and quicker recovery from illness.
Visit for Videos demonstrating the amazing calming effects in a shelter and Shelter Directors observations and information about the music.

Oct. 09 2013 08:32 AM
Mary from Long Island, NY

My dog, Amelia Rae, is a lively loving 9 year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I am by no means a singer or musician but I enjoy singing and occasionally playing my guitar or my soprano recorder. Amelia literally turns and looks at me for the duration of any song I'm singing, especially the ones that I've made up that have her name in them! - I hope that she is enjoying my singing and not watching me with concerns that there might be something seriously wrong with me! She quietly tolerates my guitar playing (very rudimentary chord playing and strumming) with vague interest but she barks with definite disapproval when I play the soprano recorder - I literally can't let her see it and am banished from playing it anywhere within her extensive hearing range! Hmmm, Amelia has trained me well!

Oct. 08 2013 10:34 PM
YS from White Plains, NY

I've noticed music by Snatum Kaur (Anand/Bliss) & Deva Premal (Moola Mantra) relaxes my dog.
Years ago I played a CD by Chris Boti (When I Fall In Love) for my dying pet; Had no idea the last song on that album was titled 'Time to say goodbye". Holding her close, I could feel her body from tension to totally relaxing, & at the end of the music she was moving as if running towards something just before very peacefully dying.
Haven't been able to listen to that music since.

Oct. 08 2013 10:11 PM
Sarah from Brooklyn

My cat doesn't respond much to the music I play, but she goes completely nuts when I'm practicing my vocal exercises for singing. She insists on laying at my feet, rolls over on her back, and meows along with every scale. Pretty hilarious and hopefully not a negative commentary on my singing voice....

Also, my capoeira teacher has a wonderful, though ornery, parrot. Over the years the parrot has gotten used to my company and voice. I'll sing various tunes to him, and he has himself learned to sing a couple of songs in Portuguese. He seems to always appreciate the attention and gets variably animated to hear singing, but there is something about Carole King's "Where You Lead" that really gets him going. As soon as I begin the first verse, Larry the Parrot starts swaying side to side, warbling along IN TUNE with my singing, and doesn't stop until I do. He hasn't picked up the words yet, but man oh man, he is feeling it; whatever IT is :-)

Oct. 08 2013 10:03 PM
JM Livingston from Broooklyn

My ex is classical singer. My very calm rescued Labradoodle (a Soundcheck and New Sounds listener) loved it when she sang Beethoven or Brahms, and loved it when she sang Ladino songs, and loved it when she sang ancient Japanese folk songs, but when she started with the Mozart, he left the room. It didn't feel random to us, it definitely looked and felt like a COMMENT. As if he were saying, loved that other stuff but I will not sit through THIS. With my human ears, she sounded quite good, But, the Labradoodle said NO. Go figure!

Oct. 08 2013 09:41 PM
Allison Negus from Dunellen, NJ

I agree with the previous comment that you don't put a shelter dog in a crate and expect it not to have separation anxiety!! It's not rocket science, so why didn't't the vet or behaviorist comment on that? Also, if the animals calm down after the music gets turned on in the morning, why would you turn it off when no people are around at night? Let the poor animals crank up their stress all night and only get relief when people are around? Who is the music for now? Also not rocket science would be separating the dogs in a soundproof room from the cats, as cats perceive most dogs as predators and it is very stressful for cats to be surrounded and hearing strange dogs!!!

Oct. 08 2013 09:22 PM
suzinne999 from bronx

Wow. Had to this this OFF. Katie Bishop comes off like one clueless bim. She adopts a shelter dog who's probably already traumatized, and she puts it in a CRATE?

John Schaefer: can't believe you're giving this woman air time.

Oct. 08 2013 09:06 PM

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