Music Therapy for Shelter Dogs

How Music Therapy Can Be Impactful In the Lives of Shelter Pets

Nobody wants there to be shelter dogs out there in the world that don’t have a safe home to curl up in every night. But it's one of those unfortunate truths about the world. And while I sure would love to be able to take every dog home with me, it’s just not realistic. And I am sure plenty of you out there feel the same way about. I mean there’s a reason they keep running those sad commercials to try and get you to donate to support shelter pets. Our shelter system simply doesn’t have the funds to care for every dog every day. But one recent finding is providing shelters with a great new alternative method to provide a safe home to their shelter dogs. And that is music therapy.

conducting music therapy for shelter dogs to help them deal with trauma and anxiety
Music therapy for shelter dogs is a brand new idea that is already leading to astounding results

What Is Music Therapy?

And Who Started Applying it to Shelter Dogs?

Music therapy is the use of music to help ameliorate a wide variety of different medical conditions, but it has been shown to be particularly effective in helping combat feelings of anxiety and stress. And these are two of the emotions that therapy dogs are under the most. And that makes sense when you think about it. They are crammed into a tight living space without adequate room to play and without a pack of humans for them to love and adore

And these dogs have it hard enough. So it's reassuring to me that there might be a brand new avenue of affordable care that shelters can provide their dogs with through music therapy. In fact a 10-year-old boy in Houston Texas (Yuvi Agarwal) recently started his own music therapy program to help calm stressed out shelter dogs. After taking part in a reading program Yuvi saw how music could make animals more relaxed and told his mother that he wanted to take his keyboard and go play music for the dogs at the local shelter.

The non-profit Houston Pets Alive was the first shelter to give him a chance to play his music for an audience of shelter dogs and the results were immediate. The workers at Houston Pets Alive noticed that as soon as he started playing the animals got real quiet, and they got really interested in what he was playing. And Yuvi hasn’t stopped since that first performance.

man playing guitar and woman singing to a happy yellow lab as they sit together on their bed
Music therapy can be great for shelter dogs, as well as dogs at home that struggle with anxiety and nerves

Music Therapy for Shelter Dogs

How Music Can Help Them Destress and Find Their Forever Home

And this can be a huge benefit in the lives of shelter dogs. One of the things that make it hard for a shelter dog to get adopted is when they are feeling all stressed out and anxious when a new family or person comes to see them at the shelter. And when they are that kind of nervous they aren’t as friendly or outgoing as they would normally be and they end up being a lot less likely to get adopted because of it. By playing music for the shelter dogs they can go in and meet with their new potential owners in a much more calm and relaxed state. And when they are relaxed and able to be themselves and act all friendly and curious when a new person arrives, they increase their likelihood of getting adopted significantly.

And Yuvi is having such success with his music therapy for dogs that he has launched his own website and campaign called Wild Tunes that is all about his passion of providing music therapy for shelter dogs. By forming an organization and building a website, Yuvi’s goal is to take his program nationwide and get music therapy being played for shelter dogs all across the country. And I for one certainly hope he is successful at it. I can’t think of a better way to feel like you are doing good in the world than by playing music for shelter dogs to help them get adopted.

If you or anybody you know would like to get involved with Yuvi’s project you should reach out to him through his website. Instruments like keyboard, guitar, kalimba, and ukulele are all well suited to providing music therapy for shelter dogs, but Wild Tunes notes that percussion instruments are unwelcomed because they often have the opposite result on the shelter dogs.

Whereas melodic music calms them down, percussive music tends to rile them up. And the last thing you want to do is get them in a heightened state where they are more likely to feel nervous or anxious. You want the music to soothe the shelter dogs and help put them in a calm and relaxed state in order to better help them get adopted. And even if it doesn’t necessarily help them get adopted, it is still a good thing to play music for shelter animals and help them destress and relax once in a while.

couple playing music for their dog
Music therapy has long been shown to be an effective tool in treating humans mental health so it's interesting to see it can be applied to animals as well.

Music Therapy Is A Great Way to Relieve Stress

For People, Shelter Dogs, and Even Your Dog At Home

Overall music therapy is a great way to combat stress and a whole slew of other mental health maladies. And while there is ample research to show how effective it can be in treating humans, Yuvi is really the first person to think about applying music therapy to shelter animals. And I am honestly pretty amazed that a 10-year-old boy was able to think up such an amazing idea all on his own. I would love for his project to expand and for more musicians to lend their talents to their local shelters. Hopefully his efforts get more media attention in the future and his project can continue to grow and expand.

And the same way Yuvi used music to help destress dogs at the shelter, you can use music at home to help destress your dog. If you have a dog that is a little too high strung, or is always suffering from their nerves, then you should give music therapy at home a chance and see what kind of effects it can have on your pet. It’s been proven quite effective in the shelters so there’s no reason it shouldn’t prove effective right at home.

couple sitting in a hammock playing ukelele for a fluffy black and white dog they rescued from a shelter
Music therapy can help calm shelter dogs before meeting potential new owners which makes it more likely they end up in their forever home.

Although music therapy has long been seen as a useful tool to combat stress and anxiety in humans, Yuvi is the first person to attempt to replicate those effects on animals. And all the evidence so far shows that he is being quite successful with it. By playing soothing music therapy for the shelter dogs Yuvi is able to help destress them and calm them down which all around makes it more likely that they will be adopted. And isn’t that what we all want at the end of the day? For all the shelter dogs out there to go to a good and loving home? Music therapy and music therapists might be just the tool that shelters have been looking for for a long time!

Anthony Stockton
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