This is the third entry in a series of albums designed to soothe and calm dogs. The music has been tested on dogs in shelters, clinics and homes. This music is intended to help includes excessive barking, trembling, separation anxiety, fear of thunderstorms, new pet introductions, post surgical stress, and other troubling behaviors. An instructional booklet is included with the CD. If you want more in-depth information about it, there’s a book by Joshua Leeds and Susan Wagner (2008).

Lisa Spector plays classical piano works that are “psycho-acoustically designed” to provide soothing sound-scapes. The CD was co-produced by Joshua Leeds, an authority in the field of sound research. The basis of the effectiveness of the CDs is called “entrainment.” A 2002 study conducted in San Francisco and Belfast in dog shelters found that classical music elicited more relaxed behavior, while heavy metal agitated the dogs. (no shock there!) Leeds coordinated with Lisa Spector and veterinary neurologist Susan Wagner on two years of clinical tests. What they discovered was that not all classical music has the same effect. The music on these discs is the kind that works best in 85% of cases.

The user is instructed to play the music several times while the dog is in a positive mental state, thus entraining that mental state with the music. Then when the dog feels anxiety, the music returns them to a mental “happy space”.

There are three “Music to Calm Your Canine Companion” CDs. Other CDs in the series include “Music for the Canine Household,” “Driving Edition” to calm dogs in the car, “Music to Comfort Your Elderly Canine” (reviewed separately), “Music to Calm Your Puppy,” and “Through a Cat’s Ear: Music for Calming.”

The selections are a combination of well-known and lesser-known classical pieces with gentle melodies and a minimum of wild keyboard flourishes and choppy chords. Volume 3 includes:
Gertrude’s Dream Waltz (Beethoven)
La Lisonjera (Chaminade)
Waltz, Op 39/9 (Brahms)
Berceuse (Ilyinsky)
Berceuse (Gounod)
Andante (Gluck)
Venetian Gondola Song (Mendelssohn)
Arabesque (Karganoff)
Chanson Triste (Tchaikovsky)
Sarabande (Debussey)
Apres un Reve (Faure)
Gymnopedie No 1 (Satie)
Gymnopedie No 2 (Satie)
Adagio Sostenuto from the “Moonlight” Sonata (Beethoven)

Almost all of the music is played as it was written – for solo piano. “Apres un Reve” is a vocal piece re-scored for keyboard, and a very lovely song to include in this collection. If the original score contains too many flourishes or choppy chords, those are edited out and/or simplified. Some of the music is played slower than in a typical life performance. Many of these pieces shift between major to minor tonalities. Hey, if it keeps dogs happy, terrific! Lisa Spector keeps the music at a controlled, steady pace with no more volume than a mezzo forte. Some listeners (including me) will get a serious case of piano envy for her 9-foot Steinway, too – the instrument has a superb tone, and she plays it beautifully.

I actually got a chance to road-test this CD. An older min-pin was introduced into my household a few days after I got the review copy. Although we need to do a little more entrainment to make it stick, it seems to keep Lucy pretty calm (and the cats aren’t freaking out either!).

If you’ve got a dog that struggles with stress or anxiety issues, this is a perfectly harmless, non-invasive remedy to try. But remember – you have to play the CD several times when the dog is happy for it to have a soothing effect when the dog is anxious. Obviously, music therapy is preferable to drugs or other methods that might have side-effects.

Highly recommended for those with dogs that need calming and stress reduction.

~review by Elizabeth Hazel

Artists: Joshua Leeds and Lisa Spector
The Dog Studio 2010 (Sounds True)
61 minutes
CD and booklet, $10.02

See our review of Vol 2 HERE.