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Two out of every three dog owners report that their pets become anxious when they travel. That’s bad news for the 75% of pet owners who intend to go on a staycation this year, with 72% of them driving their dogs.
Fortunately, senior lecturer of music at the University of West London Sam Sutton has put together the ideal soundtrack to calm your dog’s nerves on the drive.
The 1977 hit “How Deep is Your Love” tops the list of the ten most relaxing songs for dogs, according to researchers. The songs “No Woman No Cry” by Bob Marley, “(Everything I Do) I’ll Do It for You” by Bryan Adams, and “I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner are also included on the list.
“A recent research study from the University of Glasgow suggests music can indeed affect dogs’ behavior,” Sutton says in a statement. “Dogs were exposed to a variety of sounds and styles to assess physiological and behavioral changes. The interesting thing they witnessed was that dogs displayed positive behavioral changes when exposed to certain music types. Reggae and soft rock appear to have been the canine tunes of choice.
Sutton developed the dog-friendly playlist in collaboration with the hotel booking website Justhooit.
“Perhaps the combination of pristine studio production and pleasing sound aesthetics contributes to what makes the dog’s playlist of choice,” the lecturer suggests. “Reggae is often associated with sunshine and chilling out, so perhaps this type of soothing emotional response is shared with our canine companions.”
Not every song is pet-friendly. OnePoll’s survey of 2,000 dog owners revealed that 68 percent of them are attentive to how their pets are feeling and are aware that some musical genres make them anxious. Only 28% were unaware that music could agitate a dog.
Sutton also made a list of songs to avoid while traveling with a dog. This includes the songs “Back In Black” by ACDC, “Enter Sandman” by Metallica, and “Ace of Spades” by Motorhead.
The survey also revealed that 36% of dog owners are unable to recognize the symptoms of stress and anxiety in their canine companions while they are traveling. Another 26% acknowledge that they were unaware that stress can impair a dog’s immune system and cause illness.
Fortunately, Blue Cross behaviorist Becky Skyrme has some expert advice for preparing any dog for a trip without stress.
“Since a dog’s hearing range is wider than the human’s, you may want to avoid any music with whistling as this could trigger their natural sense of response and curiosity,” Sutton says.
“It is heart-warming to see 81 percent of dog owners would change their in-car listening habits to ensure their furry friends don’t go barking mad on the motorways if caught in traffic jams,” adds Adrian Murdock from Justhooit.
“Becoming familiar with car travel from the earliest possible age will really help them to learn that car travel is a normal everyday event. For slightly older dogs, or for dogs that are worried about travel, there are lots of other things you can do,” Skyrme says.
“Some dogs experience motion sickness and this can be greatly helped by speaking to your vet. Otherwise, it’s all about helping your dog to feel safe, secure and comfortable in the part of the car they will be traveling in,” the behaviorist continues.
“To begin with, start with a stationary car. Use their favorite things to reward them for jumping in and out, and then start to build up the time they spend inside the car. Then progress to going on short journeys that end in something really positive happening, like a favorite game, fun walk or receiving a tasty food treat.”
“This will help your dog to build a positive association between car travel and their favorite things. If the problem persists, always seek help from your vet or a qualified behaviorist,” Skyrme explains.
If you’re planning a road trip with your dog, put on some Bee Gees for your anxious dog on long vehicle trips!