I grew up with a rather excitable Cocker Spaniel named Doodle. (Yikes, that’s an old photo of us!) When I started playing the piano at age seven, she’d come lay by my pedal foot and fall asleep. Even in her senior years when deaf, as soon as I started playing the piano, Doodle would come from any part of the house and lay down near the piano. She must have loved the vibrations.
Later on, my Golden, Byron (R.I.P.), also lost most of his hearing in his senior years. Since this is so common with older dogs, I just thought that was to be expected.
However, when Sanchez was a puppy in training for Guide Dogs for the Blind, I started becoming a very sound aware pet parent. It was actually his response to altered classical music that inspired my sound consciousness.
Throughout his life, I’ve only become more mindful and have taken measures to protect his hearing. I have been more cautious about his sound environment than any previous dog in my care. I even play the grand piano with the lid down, as he loves to lie underneath it, and I sometimes play loud and fast. He is 13 and 1/2, and I am happy to say that he has shown no signs of any hearing loss. Luck? Maybe, but I don’t think entirely.
5 Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Dog’s Hearing
1. Don’t expose them to loud bands or loud street fairs.
Humans hear sounds between 20-20,000 Hz. Dogs hear at least twice as high, sometimes all the way up to 55,000 Hz. While it’s great that more events and public places are dog friendly, so often those environments are created for humans. A fundraising party for dogs and their people that benefits your local shelter doesn’t benefit your dog when a loud band is playing. Please be cautious of your dog’s sound environment.
2. Take a sonic inventory.
Sound is like air. We rarely notice these two common elements unless the air suddenly becomes polluted or the sound becomes chaotic. The sonic inventory is recommended by veterinary neurologist Susan Wagner and sound researcher Joshua Leeds, in their book Through a Dog’s Ear, Using Sound to Improve the Health & Behavior of Your Canine Companion. It’s one way of becoming aware of the noise in your pet’s environment and taking measures to improve it.
3. Provide simple sounds at home that calm the canine nervous system.
We love our dogs. They are the most adaptable creatures on the planet. So, we just expect them to adjust to our crazy human sound environment. Some do, but many can’t. Sensory confusion leads to over-stimulation and unwanted behaviors. Canine sound therapy helps contribute to a consistent and calm auditory environment. Take a listen with your pup and enjoy a soothing sound bath together.
When it comes to sound, dogs don’t always understand cause and effect. You know when people are in your home yelling at the TV during a sports game that it’s all in good fun. But, it may not be much fun for your dog, who is still trying to orient whether all of those crazy sounds are safe. Put Buster in a back quiet room, listening to music especially designed for dogs. This can not only safeguard his hearing, but also his behavior.
5. Don’t play two sound sources simultaneously.
Remember that your dog’s hearing is much finer than yours, they hear twice as high. One family member may be in the living room blasting the TV, while another is in the kitchen listening to the radio. Your dog is caught in the middle, absorbing both sounds and getting stressed. Try and only have one sound source at a time, playing at a gentle volume.
Those of us who love our pets often assume that our environment is the best for them. However, sometimes it requires a different way of thinking to assess whether what works for us, works for our beloved pets as well.
Are you a sound aware dog lover? Thanks for posting a comment and sharing how you create a peaceful canine household.