Posted 14th March by Peter Byrne
While it has been scientifically proven that classical music can have a relaxing effect on the human body, it is less well known as to whether or not it does the same for our dogs
In humans, classical music is known to slow the pulse rate, lower our blood pressure and decreases stress levels.
With there being more than 8.5 million dogs living in our homes, this inspired EUKANUBA to investigate whether it had a similarly beneficial impact on the stress and anxiety levels of our dogs. Partnering with composer Iain Jackson, they created an original classical score that was performed by a 10-piece string orchestra that would assess the impact the music had on the dogs' stress and anxiety levels.
Commenting on the approach he took to developing the score, composer Iain Jackson said: "There were two key elements in writing this piece of music for the dogs. Firstly, we wanted to create something that would have a calming effect and help to relax dogs. And secondly, we wanted to tell the story of a dog’s life from puppy into junior, adulthood, then as they mature and become a senior dog. We wanted the music to demonstrate the building blocks of each individual life stage, representing a dog’s nature, personality and overall wellbeing, whilst also celebrating the companionship that we share with our dogs. This acted as our blueprint for developing the score, telling a true ‘Dog’s Tale’."
The music was played to a focus group of dogs which were at all life stages, across a variety of breeds and included a three-month-old Lhasa Apso puppy. The dogs were introduced to the unusual looking instruments, in an unfamiliar environment, with new people and dogs they hadn't previously met. This could have proved an overwhelming experience, which made the results even more surprising and impressive.
Kellie Ceccarelli, EUKANUBA's Veterinary Training Manager, was on hand to monitor the reactions of the dogs and to assess their pulse rates to make sure they were calm and not stressed. Each of the seven dogs had their pulses taken before they entered the studio to give the researchers a benchmark figure of their relaxed state. This was then checked again after they had listened to the pieces of music. Each dog's pulse rate had lowered, with the average 22 per cent reduction across the group demonstrating how classical music can have a calming effect on dogs too.
Kellie said: "I was slightly apprehensive that all of the new experiences we were introducing the dogs to could cause them to be slightly stressed in an environment that we wanted to be calming. But it was the complete opposite. They were calm, relaxed and quickly settled on the beds with many of the dogs falling asleep. And to see an average reduction of 22% in their pulse rates was really quite staggering."
"One of the best parts for me was the effect the music seemed to have on both the owners and the dogs together, it almost seemed to strengthen the relationship between them. This is not something we anticipated, and it was very emotional to experience."