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Mozart Helps Dogs Handle Stress

Police dogs in Madrid receive music therapy
By Karen B. London PhD, April 2018, Updated June 2021

The 22 dogs working with the Madrid Police Force are detection dogs who find explosives and narcotics as well as participate in rescue missions. These dogs have demanding jobs that require intense focus and a high level of alertness. They must be ready to go at a moment’s notice, and they experience a lot of stress on the job.

The local council in Madrid oversees the police and recently renovated the living conditions for the canine members of the force. Their goal was to lower the anxiety and stress levels of the dogs. One change was to install air-conditioning to make it easier to deal with the high summer temperatures so common in the region.

Another big improvement was adding a specialized sound system to provide music therapy to the dogs. Classical music is played multiple times a day for the specific purpose of reducing stress. Research into the effects of music on kenneled dogs in shelter environments found that classical music caused dogs to sleep more and to vocalize less. Though classical music from a variety of composers can be influential, Mozart’s work is often used in experiments testing the role of music on task performance and on mood.

Do you ever play classical music for your dog?

Photo: Bianca Ackermann / Unsplash

Karen B. London, Ph.D. is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral issues, including aggression. Karen writes the animal column for the Arizona Daily Sun and is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University. She is the author of six books about canine training and behavior, including her most recent, Treat Everyone Like a Dog: How a Dog Trainer’s World View Can Improve Your Life