Music reduces pet stress in shelters Pamela Fisher and her best friend, Lili pose in a field of flowers in Canton, Ohio. (Dr. Pamela Fisher via AP/Thinkstock)
Music reduces pet stress in shelters
Lexile

Can music tame the savage beast? Can it hush puppies and calm kitties?
 
A veterinarian thinks so. Dr. Pamela Fisher has put music in over 1,100 animal shelters. She says that it calms dogs and cats. And it even cuts down on barking.
 
Fisher started the nonprofit Rescue Animal MP3 Project nearly four years ago by asking artists around the world to donate dog- and cat-friendly music. The result was MP3 players packed with 30 hours of classics. The songs included music by Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin and nursery rhymes like "Three Blind Mice." They also included harps, pianos and violins mimicking ocean waves and gentle breezes. She gives them free to animal shelters, sanctuaries and spay-and-neuter clinics.
 
"I have used therapeutic music in my practice and wanted to figure out a way to help the shelter animals in my own community," said Fisher. She is a holistic veterinarian whose practice in North Canton, Ohio, includes alternative approaches like aromatherapy. Her "community" has grown to include shelters in all 50 states. They house over 115,000 dogs and cats.
 
One fan is Tina Gunther. She is vet tech at the Cut Bank Animal Shelter near Cut Bank, Montana. She also is its sole volunteer (there are no paid employees). Winter temperatures at the rural shelter for six dogs and six cats regularly run well below zero. And "the wind blows nearly every day. We call them black blizzards - the top soil is just blown away," Gunther said.
 
To calm the animals, Gunther tried the radio. Besides hit-and-miss reception, the news and sports had people yelling. And there were upsetting sound bites. Then the project MP3 player was installed for the dogs on one side. "The difference has been dramatic," she said.
 
She and her husband had to buy a second player for the cats. "When they play songs they like, they go and sit by the speakers," Gunther said.
 
No one has studied the impact of Fisher's specific music recipe. But others have looked at how music and noise in general affect animals. A 2012 Colorado State University study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior found that dogs were more likely to sleep and less likely to bark when Mozart, Beethoven and other classical artists were playing. But not when heavy metal, altered classical and other sounds were playing.
 
Fisher's website features many statements about the positive effects of her MP3 players. It includes a video from the Tuscarawas Humane Society in Dover, Ohio. The video shows dogs relaxing and settling down after hearing the music. Tuscarawas shelter director Lindsey Lewis says on the video that the music has calmed the atmosphere. It also has lowered the noise level.
 
A survey of more than 500 shelters conducted by Fisher also proved her approach. It found that barking reduced by half and animals on average were more relaxed.
 
"It just de-stresses them. They are still happy and wiggly. They just aren't barking," explained Tania Huycke-Phillips. She is the foster and facilities coordinator at Bay Area Humane Society in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
 
Beyond the music, the shelter staff does all it can to reduce stress for the dogs, including giving them toys, treats and food. And they also spend time with them. "Reducing stress shows off their personalities and they get adopted quicker," she said.
 
To buy the MP3 players, Fisher applies for grants. She also collects donations and holds fundraisers.
 
The music also helps relax staff members and that helps the animals too, said Fisher. She grew up singing and playing folk music on the guitar.
 
The project brought Fisher a new best friend, but it took a look, not a sound, to seal the deal. She was installing the music system at Summit County Animal Control in Akron, Ohio, in 2012 when a mutt named "Lili stole my heart with her glance."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why does music seem to calm the animals?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (123)
  • John0724-YYCA
    10/07/2015 - 07:13 p.m.

    That is actually cool that music that are kind of soothing help the dogs relieve there stress because this article said that dogs would more likely to less bark and sleep more if they listen to Mozart musics.

  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    10/07/2015 - 07:37 p.m.

    I think this is cool because this would help calm down your pets. Classical has an impact to a lot of things including plants. Heavy metal or rock music would not work because it is very loud. Classical music is helpful in a lot of ways. When you are stressed you can listen to classical to relax yourself.
    Why does music seem to calm the animals?
    Answer: The music seems to calm the animals because there is less barking.

  • Jason0421-YYCA
    10/07/2015 - 08:49 p.m.

    I think that it is interesting for dogs to get tired and relax when they hear Mozart. I think that music is amazing because music can do so many things such as making your mind be in peace. I believe that if music can do things like this, I think that music will some day be revolutionary.

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    10/07/2015 - 11:22 p.m.

    I think that music might have made the stressed dog to reduce because I think that the dog thinks that the animal shelter might feel that it is its home.

  • xanderg-jon
    10/08/2015 - 09:00 a.m.

    Music calms the animals because instead of hearing nothing or angry winds blowing there is a calming sound going on which make them bark less and go to sleep faster.

  • donaldn-gon
    10/08/2015 - 10:08 a.m.

    Because it is
    calming music

    • allysonl-hor
      12/14/2015 - 09:25 p.m.

      I think this articles purpose is to inform. The author is trying to inform us how music affects animals. I learned that music classics such as Beethoven calm animals in kennels. The author said whenever music was playing, barking reduced from the dogs. And I really agree with this article. I was once playing calming music and my dog was chewing on his toy. And when the music stopped, my dog sat up and went away as if was mad. It is cool what music does to animals.

  • samanthas-1-ste
    10/08/2015 - 01:13 p.m.

    Reducing stress in animals is very good, especially in shelters. My family puts on music for my dog and it seems to work extremely well.

  • josuec-gri
    10/08/2015 - 03:12 p.m.

    I never knew that people donate music to animals in the shelter

  • annabel1226-yyca
    10/08/2015 - 09:23 p.m.

    That's how to calm the dogs and pesky cats. If they are naughty we should punish them, and when they are sad and lonely we could turn on the music to calm them and make them happier. So does it work on any dogs. It better work for my dog. My dog is very wild. But, the owners who have a calm dog they don't have to turn on the music, because they are calm. People who have a dog that they can't sleep they will have to turn on the Mozart music because of them.

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