Sound has a profound effect on health and behaviour. Sounds can have a calming effect and promote relaxation for dogs in our care. Below are some activities that can be easily implemented in an animal centre setting to positively stimulate this sense:

The Sound of Music  dog icon

Find a printable version of Sound of Music

The following has been adapted from material on the ASPCA pro website

light bulb iconIt is important to choose music that is soothing and calming to dogs, such as some classical music or music created specifically for dogs.

stop sign iconDiscordant music, such as heavy metal, can actually increase vocal behaviour and agitation and disturb resting and sleeping activity—it must be avoided!


A selection of classical music CDs (CDs of bird songs also make good listening for canines.) See Through a Dog’s Ear for additional information on music that has been specifically formulated for dogs.

  • If your facility does not have a public address system, you can use portable CD players that you place in kennel areas
  • All you need here is someone to change the CDs from time to time


  • Play the tunes!
  • Provide variety in both the music and the times at which it is played. We need to be aware of playing the same music repeatedly or continuously, as we don’t want to lose its enrichment value. For example, you can alternate bird song and music in the morning and afternoons
  • Observe whether any of your music selections increase vocal behaviour and agitation among the dogs. If so, remove these selections from the rotation. Add more choices that are similar to the music that doesn’t inspire the dogs to “sing” along
Reading to Rover  dog icon

reading to a shelter dog

An in-kennel reading program can provide some well-needed company for the dogs in our care. This activity does not involve doing something physically active, or the engagement of games and/or toys—it is simply spending time together. Learning to be calm and relaxed is a skill that will be needed in a home environment.

A good book and a person to read it is all that is required. You can either choose to read aloud, as the dog will find the sound of your voice comforting, or read silently to yourself. The key is your presence, quiet interaction — with occasional petting — and a possible treat.

Tools needed: A good book and a person to read it! (a treat pouch can also offer a few surprises throughout the visit)

Find a printable version at ASPCA Read and Relax.

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