Perhaps channelling the music of JS Bark or Poochini, composer and pianist Iain Jackson has written a new piece of classical music proven to help dogs relax, according to a study by pet food brand Eukanuba, which commissioned the piece. A Dog’s Tale, performed by the Nero String Orchestra, was premiered at UK dog show Crufts to an audience of canine critics.
“There were two key elements in writing this piece of music for the dogs,” Jackson said. “Firstly, we wanted to create something that would have a calming effect and help to relax dogs. And secondly, we wanted to tell the story of a dog’s life from puppy into junior, adulthood, then as they mature and become a senior dog.”
Iain Jackson conducting A Dog’s Tale for a canine audience. Photo © Eukanuba
“We wanted the music to demonstrate the building blocks of each individual life stage, representing a dog’s nature, personality and overall wellbeing, whilst also celebrating the companionship that we share with our dogs,” he explained. “This acted as our blueprint for developing the score, telling a true ‘Dog’s Tale’.”
Eukanuba’s veterinary training manager Kellie Ceccarelli measured the effect of the music on seven dogs exposed to the music, including a three-month-old puppy, The Times reported.
“To demonstrate the impact, the music was played to a focus group of dogs of all life stages, across a variety of breeds,” the company said. “Upon listening to the score, the dogs’ pulse rates were reduced on average by an impressive 22 percent, proving that classical music can in fact relax, calm and comfort our canine friends.”
Ceccarelli told The Times that while heart-rates weren’t measured at the public premiere at Crufts, the number of barks per minute fell noticeably. “A lady said her dog had been panting, which is a sign of stress, but it had stopped,” she said. “And there was one lady who said her dog doesn’t stop barking – but it stopped.”
The composer, Jackson, told The Times he chose the ten-piece string orchestration for its calming effect. “The music has a nice steady pulse, with flowing melodic lines. I also chose a smooth texture for the music, and there was an element of trying to reflect companionship and a dog’s life.”
The work comes two years after Universal released composer and cellist David Teie’s album Music for Cats, comprising five pieces written specifically for feline audiences, while in Turkey last year another canine classical music enthusiast made headlines when he lay down on stage next to the concertmaster.