Mozart for Mutts… and Marine Life?

It is not a secret that humans have been reaping the therapeutic benefits of music for ages. But, how about other species? Just yesterday, the renowned cellist, Alisa Weilerstein, played Bach’s Suite for Solo Cello No. 5 for fish at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. While this was inspired by NPR Music’s new Field Recordings series which sees musicians performing in public spaces, the fish (as well as the aquarium visitors) seemed to benefit from the glorious sounds that sang from her cello.

I loved watching the turtle come out of the water for a moment at 1:07. It appears as if he is enjoying the music, but I very well may be anthropomorphizing. However, according to Animal Planet, sea turtles can hear low-pitched sounds just like a person can. And they detect vibrations in the water (and on land). According to sound researcher Joshua Leeds, “The building blocks of sound are vibration and frequency (the measurement of vibration). All musicians are essentially sculpting sound, be it beloved Bach or Santana’s distortion pedal on his guitar. But there are so many compelling things about classical music that gently hold our auditory attention.” Well, Weilerstein’s performance wasn’t only for the marine life, she certainly captured the eyes and ears of the humans who were lucky enough to be visiting the National Aquarium.


Produced by Mito Habe-Evans, Dena Trugman, and Tom Huizenga, reporter and blogger for NPR Music, the video of this fabulous cellist particularly caught my attention because I am both a concert pianist and a canine music expert. That’s right, I play Debussy for Dogs.

Clinical research by Irish behaviorist Deborah Wells proved that classical music, compared to human conversation, heavy metal music, pop music, and a silent control (no music at all) had a marked soothing effect on dogs in animal shelters. Further research by veterinary neurologist Susan Wagner showed that all classical music doesn’t have the same effect on the canine species. Classical piano arrangements that are slowed down to 50-60 beats per minute, simplified (for passive hearing rather than active listening) and lowered (to frequencies that calm the canine nervous system) not only helps calm dogs, but also relieves a huge variety of canine anxiety issues. Listen to sound samples of the music that is calming canines worldwide and increasing adoption rates in shelters.

Little Red, a Vicktory Dog

Little Red, a Rehabilitated Vicktory Dog


It even helped Little Red, one of the rehabilitated dogs from Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels. Her foster mom and future adoptive owner, Susan, said, “The first time she heard the music, she didn’t curl up in her usual sleeping position. Instead she sprawled. She exposed her whole body to the music. The music has touched the soul of this abused little dog. Her wounds have healed but her soul is often heavy with fear. She has found great solace in the music of Through a Dog’s Ear.”

I am the pianist on the music series. My love of dogs and desire to help improve their lives inspired the creation of the concept with psychoacoustic expert Joshua Leeds. We’ve been asked if dogs really recognize Debussy or Mozart? Leeds reported, “Dogs respond to tonal ranges, tempos, and easily identifiable patterns. The main thing is that we now have the opportunity to affect the canine nervous system with natural and effective sound waves.”

And apparently canines are not the only ones enjoying music for dogs. Earlier this week, Music to Calm your Canine Companion Vol. 1 hit the Billboard Classical charts at #19. And unless a Border Collie lives in your house, it’s most likely the humans that are doing the purchasing.

Do you play music for your pets? Thanks for telling us their reaction by posting a comment below.

Have you seen the new Adoptable Pets page on Care2? Check it out here! Please also share with your friends – we’d love your help in finding homes for these adorable animals!

Have you tried Sound Therapy for your dogs? Through a Dog’s Ear is the first music clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system.

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Calm your Canine Companion Music Series

Simply click here, enter your email address and a link to the free download will be delivered to your inbox for you and your canine household to enjoy!


Elisa F.
Elisa F5 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Jav R.
Jav R5 years ago


Essie D.
Essie D7 years ago

I rescue and adopt Rottweilers and am now on my third, a beautiful female from upstate New York. Since I am a trained classical pianist and singer, playing the local classical radio station all day is a natural for me. All my Rottweilers were like velvet dogs as a result. My current three "kids" -- all rescues -- love everyone and everything, and I credit classical music for their gorgeous dispositions! That, and lots of love, touching and hugging.

Taylor isMyName
Past Member 7 years ago

I don't have any pets right now but my last dog liked when I played jazz. Or maybe she just liked to see me snapping my fingers and tapping my feet? :)

Carrie Anne Brown

interesting article, thanks for sharing :)

Pepper Hume
Pepper Hume7 years ago

I'm reading Through a Dog's Ears and it makes enormous sense. I am personally addicted to classical music and it's good to know that my Aussie benefits from it, too.

AndyNoMail O.
Past Member 7 years ago

All animals seem to appreciate classical music.

Lynn C.
Past Member 7 years ago

I was recently house-sitting an African Grey parrot, and she liked Salsa and the Classical channels.

Nicholas L.
Nicholas L7 years ago

I think it would be interesting to see how whales would react to the music.

Talya Honor
Talya H7 years ago

Love this! I so enjoyed playing classical music to my dogs when they were still around :)