Friday, July 31, 2009

The Magic of Music for Pets, by Janet Marlow


It seems intuitive that music which sounds soothing to us, would also have the same effect on our animals. But is that true?

Well, yes and no, according to Janet Marlow's short primer, The Magic of Music for Pets: How to Use Music for the Well-Being of Dogs, Cats and Horses. Janet is an internationally known composer, with a special expertise in designing acoustically appropriate environments for dogs, cats, and horses. As she explains in The Magic of Music for Pets, "music for human listening does not guarantee behavioral calm and a soothing environment for animals."

This is true, in part, because dogs, cats, and horses (the animals most thoroughly studied by Ms. Marlow) are capable of hearing different frequencies than we are, and are most comfortable when sounds are within their optimal hearing ranges. Horses have a hearing range between 55 and 33,500 Hertz (Hz), which is similar to ours, while dogs (67 to 45,000 Hz) and cats (45 to 64,000 Hz) are capable of hearing sounds that are considerably higher.

So how can our knowledge of our animals' sound sensitivities help us to design music that will enhance their lives? It's here where Janet really excels, describing the process she used to create her CD series, Relaxation Music for My Pet and Me, and Relaxation Music for Horses: "When composing, I place the music in the register or octave range best suited to the animal. The final stage of the production is to digitally position the frequency range of the music directly in the middle of their hearing comfort zone to avoid any extremes that would cause an animal stress or make them flee from their resting place."

Based on my own observations of my Springer Spaniel, Tish, I can attest that Janet's techniques worked amazingly well in Relaxation Music for My Pet and Me (Volume 3). Within a few moments of my turning it on, Tish gravitated to the room where it was playing, and was soon fast asleep!

The earlier Relaxation Music for Dogs and Cats volumes apparently achieved the same results when Ms. Marlow tested them at veterinarians' offices, local shelters and rescues, grooming parlors, and private homes:

"I could see that dogs were resting within 5 to 7 minutes. Cats that were
out of view in the home came into the room with the music and curled up
to rest. . .Rescued dogs at the kennel diminished their anxious barking.
The recovery area at the veterinary hospital had a pleasant feel to it
and the staff commented to me that it helped them feel calm as well."

Similar effects were noticed when Janet played her Relaxation Music for Horses compositions at local stables. I found it fascinating that she modeled her equine music not on classical motifs but on country music, based on anecdotal reports from horse people who had noticed that their horses seemed to enjoy listening to Country Music stations when the radio was on in the barn.

Because the music in Janet Marlow's Relaxation series for animals has been composed and recorded with such care and awareness, it can be profoundly useful in easing the stress of separation anxiety, for example, or during thunderstorms, or for animals who fear getting into cars or trailers. These sensitively created CDs are a gift of peace for both animals and their people.

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