It's said that music can calm the savage beast, and now, researchers are saying that may or may not be true -- but it DOES seem to apply to the family dog! At least -- slow, classical music.
Concert pianist Lisa Spector noticed that, when she practiced her piano, her rambunctious dog calmed down.
"The vibrations that a piano brings on -- I've never met a dog in my entire life who just doesn't totally love the -- those sounds," she told The Early Show's resident veterinarian, Dr. Debbye Turner.
Spector shared her observation with sound researcher Joshua Leeds, and they began creating music just for Fido.
"Our goal," Leeds explains, "is to be able to use the music and sound to help dogs be able to just deeply relax."
Leeds then conducted a study with a veterinary neurologist, Dr. Susan Wagner.
"There have been studies," Wagner says, "on people that show that noise pollution creates stress. And we know that chronic stress creates disease."
The study found that, when slow, simple classical music was played for shelter dogs, more than 70 percent became noticeably calmer. The findings are published in their book, "Through a Dog's Ear".
"What we found," Leeds says, "is the slower the music that we played, the more relaxed the dogs became."
Spector says they simplify the music for canines, by lowering the music an octave -- lower frequencies slow one's heart rate -- and by playing it in solid chords, so there's not as much for the ear to absorb all at once.
What's more, Turner points out, dogs appear to have musical preferences!
Says Leeds: "Rock music, jazz, heavy metal made them more anxious. Classical slowed them down. It just relaxed them in a way that the other music seemed to irritate them."
Turner tried out the theories on some dogs at Canine Ranch Doggie Daycare in New York.
When she played rock, the dogs were very active, even feisty, Turner reports. Jazz might relax humans, but it seemed to make the hounds hyper. As for rap -- "Let's just say I enjoyed it more than they did."
But, within moments of playing the simple music created by Spector and Leeds, the dogs relaxed, some even laid down.
"These dogs just relax like you wouldn't believe," Wagner observes.
They've dubbed that type of music "psycho-acoustic music" and believe it can help dogs who suffer with behavioral issues, such as separation anxiety.
"What we found," Wagner says, "was that twice as many of the behaviors, the anxiety behaviors, were reduced with the psycho-acoustic music, as compared to the play list from the classical music station."
Asked if she was saying a dog with separation anxiety can be cured by listening to that music, Wagner responded, "Well, it may or may not -- we have had dogs cured just with the music."
It remains to be seen, Turner notes, how much that music can help a dog with anxiety.
But, according to Leeds, it sure can't hurt!
"The only way that this music could hurt the human being or dog is if they ate the CD!" Leeds exclaimed.
Copyright 2008 CBS. All rights reserved.