There is now some music which has been specifically composed to calm tense dogs. This music has been created by Garrett Charles Nash who is best known by his stage name gnash. He is an American singer, songwriter and rapper who is probably best known for his song "i hate u, i love u". I was alerted to his recent attempt at writing music to calm dogs by an email which read in part
"He [gnash] has this poodley dog named Daisy. She is one tense stressed out dog. I mean she is anxious and angry enough so that he actually got some kind of medication to use with her but as far as I can tell it didn't do a lot to calm her down. Anyways I told him about an article that you wrote in January which showed how reggae music could calm dogs [click here to see that article] and he read it and got kind of excited about using music to calm Daisy. He even called the researchers in Scotland that you mentioned to find out more and then he wrote this piece of music for Daisy, and it seems to work not just on her but on other dogs as well."
From what I could find out, Daisy was a rescue dog who developed her anxiety problems while in her previous home. Apparently, gnash started with the idea that music like reggae could calm his dog, but through trial and error (using Daisy as his test subject) he found that certain musical elements, such as simple arrangements and repetitions, provided the most soothing effect. He has posted a video which outlines his creative process and the journey which brought him to finally produce his "Song for Daisy". You can see that video here, and near the end is a fascinating illustration of the effect that the music had when he played it for a group of shelter dogs.
The resulting piece of music is rather long, spanning more than 15 minutes. No actual research has been done on the effects of this newly created musical composition for dogs, except for observations on Daisy and the casual observations at a dog shelter. I did play this recording for my dogs (who were only in a moderately excited state when I started) and they did seem to be quite calm during the time that it was on — in fact both seemed to doze off while the piece was being played. I actually felt a bit dozy as well, but maybe that was simply because my informal set of observations was taken just after lunch.
For those of you who would like to hear the entire audio piece, or perhaps conduct your own set of observations on your dogs you can obtain it at the link below.
Since being in a dog rescue shelter is often a stressful time for dogs, having music which actually calms and relaxes them could certainly help to make the experience better. After all, Music Therapy is a recognized form of treating human beings with anxiety problems, and there is no reason to think that it would not work on dogs as well.
Gnash summarizes his experience playing his composition this way.
"It was a powerful experience to watch an entire room full of dogs, and my own rescue dog Daisy, react to this song. It was incredible to be able to create music that transcends human emotion and has the ability to connect with these animals on a deeper level. I hope this video and song helps other rescue pet owners comfort their furry friends the same way it did mine."
Stanley Coren is the author of many books including: Gods, Ghosts and Black Dogs; The Wisdom of Dogs; Do Dogs Dream? Born to Bark; The Modern Dog; Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses? The Pawprints of History; How Dogs Think; How To Speak Dog; Why We Love the Dogs We Do; What Do Dogs Know? The Intelligence of Dogs; Why Does My Dog Act That Way? Understanding Dogs for Dummies; Sleep Thieves; The Left-hander Syndrome
Copyright SC Psychological Enterprises Ltd. May not be reprinted or reposted without permission