First things first: I don’t think dogs are savages. I often look to Frankie for wisdom, as my last post attests. But every time I’ve used the phrase “soothe the savage breast” in the past, an editor has changed “breast” to “beast”; one even accused me of having my mind in the gutter. Also, the quote — “Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast/To soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak” — is from William Congreve’s The Mourning Bride (1697), not from a play by Shakespeare. So I’m taking advantage of my chosen topic to set the record straight.
Now that I’ve got that off my chest (or breast)…
The holidays can be stressful for dogs as well as people. Everyone is bustling around, distracted, trying to get presents bought, holiday parties organized… Dogs get underfoot, voices get raise, tempers get frayed.
One easy thing to do to dial back the stress level is to skip the Chipmunk’s Christmas songs — especially if your dog has terrier tendencies — and other perky music and put on something that’ll soothe your pooch.
What might that be? My top pick is:
Through a Dog’s Ear, by Joshua Leeds and Lisa Spector
Based on studies done by veterinary neurologist Susan Wagner and psychoacoustic expert Joshua Leeds, dogs like slow tempos and not a lot of complexity in their compositions. Because they hear at such high frequencies, they also prefer quiet sounds. Thus this CD by the Apollo Chamber Ensemble featuring pianist Lisa Spector (for more information about the CD and affiliated book, see the Through a Dog’s Ear website).
Other good options include:
“Canine Lullabies,” created by former songwriter and record producer Terry Woodford, who discovered that what was effective for calming human babies also worked on the furry variety. The reverse holds true, too, according to assertions on Amazon.com that “Dog Gone Classical Music: Mozart” makes babies mellow out. Also favorably reviewed are the “Music Dogs Love: While You Are Gone” CD, and “Music My Pet,” a classical mix created by Tom Nazziola, the principal performer on Baby Einstein CDs and DVDs (luckily, no one has claimed that “Music My Pet” will make your dog smarter, merely soothe him).