Through A Dog’s Ear – Book and CD’s

By Laura Yurchak
As you all know, Brandy, my foster dog, had to go through a series of injections to kill the heartworms in her body. The injections were painful and the discomfort would last for a couple weeks. I worried about how I would get her through that first day of injections until I remembered a book and CD I bought titled Through A Dog’s Ear written by Joshua Leeds & Susan Wagner, DVM,MS.

Through a Dog’s Ear is a book accompanied by various CD’s of specific music. The book suggests that we take a look (or an ear) at our environment to see if we give our dogs and ourselves the best sensory space possible to support behavioral balance and health. To do this you must first take a test to see how the sound is affecting you and your dog.

The Noise Test – Take the noise test inside your home, and then do it outside. Take 30 minutes to sitting quietly in one place and write down all of the sounds you hear on a notepad. When doing this see how the sounds affect your dog. How do the sounds affect you? Now, rate the sounds from 1-10 with 10 being the most disturbing to you. Do the same with the sounds the affected your dog. Once this is done, is there anything you can change?
I didn’t take the test for the full 30 minutes but I did find it to be a very interesting tool. I took the outside test first. I noticed the birds chirping and the wind fluttering through the trees where before it was part of the background noise. It was so very cool to take note of that again. The most bothersome noise came from the street we live on. It is soooo very noisy!!!! The dogs both noticed the birds, the branches moving in the trees but they only went to the fence line by the street when a person or a dog was there. They didn’t want any part of that noise unless there was something worth checking out.

When I took the inside test the dogs were more relaxed when I didn’t have the windows open. The noise from the street is constant and just too much for them. I love having the windows open but  now I only open the ones that are not on the street side of the house. A timer went off on my stove and instead of turning it off right away I let it go for a few seconds. It drove me nuts! I don’t think the dogs cared for it either.

Last week we took the dogs to a park where there wasn’t any street noise, just nature. They totally enjoyed it and so did I. It reminded me of Amy’s article about her trip to Door County in an earlier newsletter. Amy, Jose and the dogs were so relaxed and enjoyed being away from the noise of the city. I know now that I plan to take my dogs away from the city noise as often as I can.

Some of us can handle noise better than others. Unresolved sensory input (sensory confusion)–a sight, sound or smell that don’t compute, translates into confusion of one degree or another. Over stimulation causes sensory confusion because we are unable to process it or put it into context. This then leads to stress which affects our nervous system. It is believed that many anxiety behaviors common in people and their dogs may be from the cumulative sensory overload, starting with the sound environment, that we live in.

There are many meditation CD’s and classical pieces that calmed my dogs down. These are some tips to help you give your dog the most positive experience when introducing any calming music to help reduce stress.
  • Play the music in a non stressful environment. Do this a few times to create a positive association.
  • Take the “Noise test” and see what you can eliminate from the noisy environment.
  • Once the music is soothing to your dog, play it in a more stressful situation. This does not have to be played loud.
The authors suggest the following tips to calm your dog and help abate behavioral issues.
  • Separation anxiety, fear based aggression, thunderstorm anxiety: Put the music to “Calm Your Canine Companion” on 20 minutes before leaving the siren – 140dB house. The volumes should be
    fairly low but high enough to mask disturbing sounds. Once your dog is relaxed, leave for a couple minutes. Don’t make a big deal out of leaving, just leave. Increase the time you are
    gone as your dog shows that they more relaxed about your departure.
  • If leaving for a long period of time, put multiple calming music CD’s into the CD player. Test the music before doing this to make sure it is truly calming. There are many yoga and meditation
    CD’s out there that works.
  • More on thunderstorms: let your dog go to their “safe” spot but continue to play the music if it is truly calming music to your dog.
  • For fireworks: let your dog go into the basement of the furthest away from the noise and play the music if it is truly calming to your dog.
  • Houseguest: play the music for an hour or longer when you have houseguests.
  • Boarding: Ask your boarding facility to play this music during your dog’s stay.
  • Shelters: tell the shelters you visit the benefit of this music.
  • Driving: prior to getting in the car, play the music for the 20 minutes and then take the music for “Driving Edition of through a Dog’s Ear” CD (or any other calming music) with you to play
    as you drive.
  • Recovering from illness or surgery: this helped Brandy get through those injections!
  • Euthanasia and Hospice: this is a very hard time for everyone. Playing the music can bring peace and calm to you and your dog.

In the beginning of this article I mentioned my concern about Brandy. As soon as I got Brandy home from the vet, I sprayed DAP spray where she would be resting and I put the CD’s into the  player. I was amazed at how well she responded to the spray and the music after only a half hour had gone by. She was able to relax more with the music than she did without it. Harley, my Border Collie fell asleep! I was so impressed by the results that I had to write about it in this month’s newsletter. I will discuss the DAP spray next month.

Look at the world from your dog’s point of view and recognize that the same environment that affects our dogs affect us too. Improve the quality of life for your entire family. Remove yourself from the noise and sensory overload whenever possible. You won’t regret it. Learn more about this topic at

Tips to Reduce Sound Inside the Home

  • Keep the volume of the TV at a level where it can’t be heard in another room.
  • Don’t play the radio and TV at the same time (this includes noisy video games)
  • If you are not listening or watching the TV or radio, turn them off.
  • Reduce the noise on sound producing appliances and phones. Turn the volume down if at all possible
  • Instead of yelling from one room to the next, get up and go to the other room to speak to someone.
  • Avoid slamming doors and clanging pots, pans and dishes.
  • If those watching TV get overly enthusiastic, put your dog in another room

Humans hear sounds between 20-20,000Hz. Canines hear almost as low as a human’s lowest frequencies. They hear almost twice as high as human’s frequency varying from 40,000 – 55,000Hz depending on breed. Maybe this is why we have dogs with floppy ears? Malcolm Gamble, a British researcher and publisher of “Sound and Its Significance for Laboratory Animals” states, “Available data confirms that exposure to sound can stress animals, and the results could still be apparent several weeks later.” He continues with saying that several hormonal, blood and reproductive measurement are disturbed by sounds above 80 decibels (dB).

• Lawn Mower – 90dB  • Screaming child – 90dB • Snowmobile -105db
• Snow blower – 110db • Power drill, chain saw – 110db • Automobile horn – 110dB
• Jackhammer – 110db  • Barking in most animal shelters and boarding facilities – 110dB
• Gunshot – 130dB • Ambulance – 130dB • Fire engine on 20 minutes before leaving the siren – 140dB

Two studies behind the Through a Dog’s Ear music came to the following conclusions:

Study 1 – the purpose was to determine the effect of rhythm and pattern identification in dogs in a kennel and home environment.
  • In the kennel environment, 70% of the dogs became calmer with simplified 50-60 BPM of piano music.
  • In the home environment, 85% of the dogs became calmer with the 50-60bpm with over half falling asleep.
Study 2 – the purpose was to determine if music arranged according to psychoacoustic (the study of the perception of sound) principles would have an effect on anxiety issues in dogs (separation,
thunderstorms and fireworks).
  • 70% of anxiety behaviors we reduced with the psychoacoustic designed music.
  • 36% of anxiety behaviors were reduced with the nonpsychoacoustic classical music.