Can’t I Just Use Any Music?
One of the most prevalent components that give music life and energy are its dynamics—the vast range between loud and soft volumes in music.
Humans love dynamics—it’s what gives music a sense of energy and flow. However, because a dogs sense of hearing is so much more sensitive than our own, these dynamics made for our own enjoyment can easily overwhelm them.
That’s why leaving the television, radio or your favorite artist playing on the stereo isn’t ideal for creating a pleasurable environment for your dog. Both the frequency and dynamic range of what’s being played are too unpredictable and have a good chance of including the types of frequencies or dynamics that can frighten your dog.
Won’t classical piano music, like Beethoven, work?
Songs For Dogs was created with particular lyrical and sonic content that is finely tuned to create a heightened state of emotion in order to access an internal recognition of the profound love you have for your dog.
What makes this conditioning platform so practical and convenient for people is that it's fun. Training a dog can be very difficult, time consuming and expensive. Our focus in developing this music was to create a conditioning method that is easy and enjoyable for both the person and the dog, so that it doesn't ever feel like work. All you have to do is play the music with your dog and positively interact with them while you listen to it. It's that easy. Your dog will be engaged in the music already because of the sounds we used, and with the added affection and interaction that you incorporate with it, your dog will begin to automatically condition themselves to find comfort in it when you’re away.
These songs are expertly crafted to emotionally resonate with dog lovers. By accessing a genuinely true sense of happiness and love for your dog while listening to it together, you will convey those precise emotions that your dog will begin to associate as being received when this particular music is being played.
This is how, through repetition, your dog can learn to associate an even more sentimental and pleasurable attachment to this music. It’s not just about creating a non-disruptive environment in your absence. It’s about making them still feel loved, safe, content and as happy as possible while you’re away.
How can you keep my dog's attention?
You've probably noticed how easily your dog can be distracted by outside noises. Many of which you might not ever be able to detect yourself. Because of their exceptional hearing and overall curious nature, your dog is highly prone to be easily distracted away from the music which would affect the outcome of the conditioning results. That's why we strategically incorporated all the typical distraction triggers right into the music. This ensures their interests remain focused on the music. Through consistent pattern recognition these triggers will act as frequent auditory bookmarks, or synaptic reference points to aid in the retrieval of the emotional data that's been collected and stored in the brain upon conditioning. They include:
- Squeaky toys: Used as percussion instruments, these favorite dog sounds add structure and density through multi-faceted rhythmic variations and poly-syncopation.
- Inaudible frequencies: We’ve kept your dogs personal music taste in mind by boosting high pitch overtones, frequencies and harmonics, many that are inaudible to our ears, but lie in the audible comfort zone for your dog.
- Reduced harsh and low sub-frequencies your dog could likely associate with thunder, slamming doors or explosions.
- Comforting commands and statements: To boost your dog’s emotional state, Songs For Dogs includes positive auditory human vocal reinforcement using familiar words and phrases.
- Vocal harmonies and counter melodies: Multi-layered vocals singing with ascending and descending pitch slides seem to provoke an innate, sing-along reaction in some dogs. This is a hereditary trait passed down from their primitive wolf ancestors that acts to satisfy a reflexive and deep-rooted desire to communicate with their kin.
- Distraction triggers: Common sounds that typically capture a dog’s attention that include choirs of dogs barking, howling, and singing, sirens, whistles and more. We know what you’re thinking…That would undoubtedly drive you crazy. These sounds keep your dogs attention, yet are arranged musically with the humans listening experience in mind so that it may only contribute to the enjoyment of the music.
Which frequencies are best for dogs?
We’ve kept your dog’s personal music taste in mind by boosting high pitch overtones, frequencies and harmonics that are inaudible to our ears but are right in the registrable frequency comport zone for your dog. As well, sub-frequencies and harsh frequencies that your dog could likely associate with thunder, slamming doors or explosions have been removed.
For example, here is a video that illustrates the frequency response of thunder and lightning, something many of our dogs are very afraid of.
Notice the massive amount of activity and energy build up that’s happening on the left side of the plugin. That area of the frequency spectrum harnessing all that energy is around 50 Hz and below. Those are very low sub frequencies that are typically reserved for the bass and kick drum in our music. These frequencies are not registered in a dogs ears as sound. However, they carry a tremendous amount of energy and are still detectable to dogs as a rumbling sensation that they "feel" as the sound waves pass through their body.
We've all sat at a stop light before where someone three cars ahead of us has a system bumping with a sub woofer. The low frequencies that I'm talking about are more registrable when you have some distance between you and the source of the sound. The driver with the system three cars ahead of you is not experiencing the same sonic energy output that you are because he's closer to the source and there hasn't been enough distance between him and the speaker for those frequencies to produce enough complete cycles to make them registrable. Here is a video that showcases the frequency response generated by a standard drum kit in Apple's audio recording software program Logic Pro X.
Notice how similar the frequency response looks for a typical drum kit in a song made for humans in comparison to the frequency response of the thunder and lightning. They are practically one in the same. People hear as low as 20 Hz, but dogs on the other hand, can only hear frequencies as low as 67 Hz. We include frequencies as low as 20 Hz in many genres of people music because we genuinely like them and, unlike dogs, can actually hear them. This intuitively makes sense to me why some dogs would be afraid of some of the very low frequency sounds that they experience. If they are unable to correlate a sonic frame of reference with the rumbling sensation like we are able to, then perhaps the only thing they have to associate that sensation with is the strikingly similar resemblance it has to thunder and lightning.
Now let's take a look at what the frequency response looks like for a sound that is notorious for evoking positive responses in dogs. The video below shows the frequency response of several common squeaky toys. You'll notice that now the majority of the activity is located on the right hand side of the plugin. These are "airy" frequencies and are very high pitched. Dog whistles produce these and even higher frequencies that humans are unable to hear.
Humans are unable to hear anything above 20 kHz, and that number diminishes as we get older. Thats why these plugins do not provide the visual monitoring capabilities to showcase frequencies that are above 20,000 Hz. Dogs on the other hand, depending on the breed, can hear frequencies up to 65,000 Hz which really goes to show how incredibly different dogs hear from the way we do. When an album get mastered, it's common practice for the mastering engineer to start shelving off frequencies above 16,000 to 17,000 Hz. This album includes registrable frequencies that go as high as 80,000 Hz.
One of the reasons why dogs are able to hear these frequencies so much better than we can is due to the tremendous amount of mobility their ears have. The conical shape of a dog's ear also works like an amplifier and increases the volume of incoming sounds as well. People sometimes cup their ears to make incoming sounds appear louder. That additional surface area and curvature is a permanent feature of a dog's ear allowing them to hear more proficiently than we do.
A fun way to hear how this works is listen to a song through the speaker on your phone. Set the phone on a surface without changing the volume and play the music for a bit. Now get a coffee mug and set it on the same surface and place your phone in the mug with the speaker end facing down. Notice how much louder the sound just became. You might even hear new strange high pitched harmonics that result from the sounds bouncing off and around the inside of the mug. This is the basic premise of how an amplifier works.
Both the cone like shape of your dogs ears and the cylindrical inside shape of the coffee mug share similar resonating and amplification properties.
My dog has separation anxiety. How can I use this music to help my dog?
In order for your dog to associate this music with being comfortable when left alone, we recommend that you play the entire album from start to finish a minimum of seven times before leaving them home alone with the music playing. This time should be spent playing together at ground level giving them as much affection as possible. For best results, incorporate the use of a special toy during this time and give them lots of verbal praise and positive reinforcement.
Only give them this toy when you leave the house with the music playing. This will allow your dog to associate your departure with the anticipation of a treat (their favorite music and special toy) to help reduce any initial over-dependencies of your presence.
Your dog can be further desensitized to your departures by leaving them with their special toy and the music playing for a very short period many times in a row. You may also try dissociating departure cues during this conditioning process such as picking up or jingling keys, putting on shoes or opening and closing the front door without leaving.
Executing these conditioning methods properly prior to leaving your dog home alone with the music playing is very important to achieve desensitization to your absence.
Can music make my dog smarter?
Certain elements of classical music that have shown to increase intelligence and cognitive stimulation in some studies for both dogs and humans have been implemented both as a focal point and subliminally. The Alberti Bass Line for example, a very repetitive musical motif found in many of Mozart's compositions, is used throughout this entire album as Mozart's music in particular has shown to have the most effective results in achieving cognitive stimulation, retention and relaxation in some studies. This "Alberti Bass Line" is very simple and consistent making it easy for the listener to anticipate or predict where and when the harmonic structure will change. As it stands by itself, the Alberti Bass Line beautifully incorporates all three categorical elements that all music is made up of; melody, harmony and rhythm. Humans and animals alike do very well at picking out patterns. When we are able to recognize patterns in music, like the ones throughout the Alberti Bass Line, our brain becomes active in multiple areas simultaneously in a way that isn't very common to most of the other ways that we use it.
When we establish and discern between the independent variables of permutational rhythmic, harmonic and melodic consistencies from an analytical standpoint, the predictability of what’s going to happen next in the music is derived from identifying and understanding the ongoing repetitive parameters that make up the pattern. This portion of the brain activity occurs on the logical and ration based side of our brain. At the same time, in order to make such predictions, we need to create a tangible representation of this in our heads by imagining what we think is about to happen before it actually does. Although we have established and acquired the pattern based information upon identifying that there is one, and how many layers play into it, we still have to generate this believe of what we think is about to come next and do so instantaneously before it comes to be, so essentially we are also engaging the creative side of our brain on many levels at the same time. As a musician myself, I intuitively believe that this is one reason that some music has been shown to increase cognitive function in both music listeners and especially in practicing musical instrumentalists. When the listener or musician is fully engaged in certain types of advanced music, it's kind of like doing a full body workout for your brain.
Here is a quick video demonstration of a simple improvised harmonic structure using the Alberti Bass Line in the left hand. See if you can find the pattern and predict what sound/chord I'll go to next before it happens. If you found the mistake I made irritating then you did an excellent job at this.