Music therapy for dogs

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Music therapy has been used to help people deal with emotional and behavioral problems for years. Now music is being used to help calm animals in stressful situations.

Ben Douglas, Nevada Police Department's animal control officer, said last week that he has been using music in the shelter for a while and he thinks it works.

"We've had some pretty good results. It seems to help the animals. It reduces the stress," he said.

He said that he is in the process of partnering with the Rescue Animal MP3 Project, which provides MP3 players preloaded with music specially written to calm animals.

"There is no cost to us. They come pre-loaded with 40 hours of music," he said.

"I didn't know there was music specifically for dogs and cats," he said.

"I hope it will make a difference with stressed animals and make them more adoptable," Douglas said.

The program was started by Pamela Fisher, a veterinarian in North Canton, Ohio.

According to their Web site, she based the program on her observation of the responses from music she used in her holistic veterinarian practice.

The music has been donated by musicians from around the world like Australian Rick Collingwood provided the album Pet Calm, Pet Healing; Felix Pando provided Mozart for Dogs, Beethoven for Dogs, Chopin for Dogs, Mozart for Cats, Beethoven for Cats and Chopin for Cats. Perry Wood and Margrit Coates from England provided Animal Healing, Music for Pets.

Douglas said that he saw a video of a shelter full of barking dogs and within minutes of starting to play this music the dogs were calmed and no longer barking.

Douglas said another thing they are using at the Nevada Animal Shelter are Kong toys.

He said the ones they use have a place to stuff food or some treat and the dogs have to work to get the treat out of the toy.

Douglas said the dogs learn that they can throw the toys into the air to get the last of the treat out. Since they keep the dogs busy for a long time they wear out and relax.

He said the toys can be frozen in ice to make them last even longer.

Douglas said that the city is continually working to improve the facility.

"I've been here four years and the shelter has gotten a lot better," he said.

They have replaced the wire between the pens with solid material so the dogs cannot see each other.

They also advertise animals on, which gives a world wide venue.

"We had a lady fly into Kansas City, drive here, pick up two dogs and fly back to New York," he said.

"I think the Internet has helped," he said.

In addition to Petfinder, they also put pets on Facebook.

The shelter also works closely with Vernon County People for Pets. The staff makes sure people are aware of the spay and neuter program People for Pets operates and transfers some animals to them if there is a place,

Douglas said that the shelter will soon be a friendlier place for cats that are picked up with the addition of an 8 by 20 foot room strictly for cats.

This room will have sun and will be a healthier place for cats.

"We felt it was time to do something for cats," he said.

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