Ep. 161 Transcript

Disclaimer: This is transcribed using AI. Expect (funny) errors.

Mindy Peterson: [00:00:00] I’m Mindy Peterson, and this is Enhance Life with Music, where we explore the ways music makes our lives better. My guest today is joining me from Connecticut: Janet Marlow. Janet is a fifth generation musician and sound behaviorist who has done groundbreaking scientific research on how sound and music can affect anxiety and behavior in our pets. Janet has used this research to create clinically proven calming music specific to various species. Her research has also led to a global brand, Pet Acoustics Inc. Pet Acoustics is known as a leader for contributing to animal welfare, and its award winning products have helped thousands of pets and pet parents, veterinarians and rescue shelters worldwide. Welcome to Enhance life with Music, Janet.

Janet Marlow: [00:00:56] Mindy Thank you so much for having me on this wonderful show. I love the concept and I can’t wait to share my information with your audience.

Mindy Peterson: [00:01:07] I can’t wait to hear it. I’m really excited about this conversation you had asked right before I hit the record button if I had a dog and I was starting to tell you that, much to the chagrin of my husband and kids, we do not have a dog. They would love to have a dog. When I was growing up, I wanted a dog really bad. My dad was that parent who was like, No, they’re too much work and it’s traumatic when they die. And and now I’m that parent who’s like, I just don’t want the work and responsibility of a pet. Like, I love other people’s pets. So, yes, hopefully I haven’t just turned off all of my listeners by sharing that. But we’re now we my husband had a pet when he a dog when he came to the marriage. So we did have a dog at the beginning. She was a fabulous dog and she passed away right around the time that we were moving to Chicago for him to go back to grad school. And it just wasn’t a good time to get another dog because we were living in a fourth floor apartment in a very urban setting where it just wouldn’t be a good setting for our dog. And then when he graduated, we were starting a family and then we were in the thick of having young kids. And then now I’m like, We’re almost empty nesters. We don’t want a dog now. So anyways.

Janet Marlow: [00:02:27] The missing piece of that, and I’m sure your listeners with dogs will agree with me that the the tipping of benefits and love and partnership and just living with an animal is broadening and it’s an enrichment to your life. So we think having that we’re enriching their pet lives, but actually it’s the reverse. So so much so you may want to consider like fostering a dog for like a few weeks and check it out. Sure.

Mindy Peterson: [00:03:00] Well, I have so many friends who are dog lovers and pet lovers and they are doing their best to convert me. I can assure you of that. And I. And I do really like dogs. Like we have really good neighbor friends who have dogs. And I sort of am like surrogate, you know, pet owner and walk their dogs for them and stuff like that. But let’s talk about you and your work. You spent the first 35 years of your career as an international performer and recording artists, and then in 1997, you began researching sound and its effect on the behavior of of animals, especially our companion animals, pets. So can you explain the concept behind pet acoustics, which you eventually came up with and how you discovered the potential impact of music on pets?

Janet Marlow: [00:03:52] Well, because of that, you know, long life in the music world, which I loved and the, you know, the thousands of people that I performed for and enjoyed so much, that circle of, you know, giving music and communicating this special level of messaging to other humans in acoustic environments was all the basis of how I transpose that concept to dogs, cats, horses and birds. And I picked those four instruments for four instruments. I picked those four animals because those are the ones that we live the most intimately with. Those are our companion animals. And so in 1994, my cat Osborn, who was my first pet because I lived in New York City and didn’t have pets at home either. So as soon as I became an adult, I had as many as I could. But he he got injured in our woods. And we we rushed him to the to the ICU. And I sang to him. I went to sing to him. I could see his eyes blinking slowly and how much he appreciated me just being there while he was not doing well. And because that had been such a soothing for him all his life while I practiced. When he passed, I had no intention of going into researching music for animals.

Janet Marlow: [00:05:22] I was still touring and recording and all that good stuff, but I was taken with his little spirit and how much, you know, my dogs and cats came to my side while I practiced the guitar and sang and how they immediately released their their muscle tension and were completely soothed. And so I had these burning questions. Well, what is it about sound? What is it about music? Of course I know the power of music, but I didn’t know the power of music for animals. And also, you know, how do they hear what’s there? What’s is it the same as humans? So all of these questions. So I wrote to universities around the world and had them mail. That’s how long ago it was their research studies. And I started piecing together kind of consciously and unconsciously what it is about animal hearing and how do we just throw on Mozart, which is always seems to be the magic, magical composer for everything in our planet. But but, but not true that classical music has a broad spectrum of dynamics and frequencies, especially recordings. And is that good for animal hearing? Well, lo and behold, I discovered that dogs hear twice as much as humans. Also, when you.

Mindy Peterson: [00:06:43] Say twice as much, is that referring to frequency decibels?

Janet Marlow: [00:06:47] Yes, both frequency frequencies and decibels. So our top range is 20,000Hz. If we hear 20,000Hz, you’re already a superhuman. You know, we’re lucky if we can get to 11, 12, 12,000Hz and then learned that dogs hear up to 45,000Hz. They also hear lower than we do in terms of frequencies. Cats. Oh, my God. They are completely off the charts. They can hear up to 85,000Hz as a composer as opposed to our meager 20,000Hz. Um, and and horses also hear more than we do. They hear a third more than we do and lower. So if you think of that kind of as a chart, so you have kind of humans at one point, then you have horses, then dogs, then cats. That whole upper register of high frequencies is what triggers survival behavior in the wild.

Mindy Peterson: [00:07:53] And is that sort of that fight or flight?

Janet Marlow: [00:07:55] That’s the fight or flight hypervigilant behavior that triggers animal behavior as well as subsonic sounds as well. So, you know, thus the thunderstorm fears that a lot of animals have. Yeah. Um, and so I thought, well, okay, so and now is it just any instrument? Is it, you know, everybody always throws these things at me when I’m in, you know, different conversations. Oh, my dog loves Metallica. My dog loves jazz, my dog loves reggae, you know, You know, I’m happy. And anything to help an animal find stress release because the key to that whole concept is health. And so if a dog is feeling stressed, excessive stress eventually leads to illness, just like as it does in humans, except they’re more sensitive and they hear more and they feel more So I hope by the end of this program your audience appreciates the fact that there’s these kind of logical understandings of the animals that we live with and care for and that they their consciousness about how to observe them becomes a little more heightened and therefore will provide better environments for their pets. So that’s the general goal.

Mindy Peterson: [00:09:18] Well, I saw this term psychoacoustics, and it was defined as the perception of sound and the physiological response to sound and that it’s one of the most overlooked triggers of animal behavior, which I thought was really fascinating. And it makes sense when you think about lightning and thunder. You know, automatically you think about dogs. At least I do. Our dog would always run to the bathtub whenever there was a thunderstorm. So she must have felt safe in that bathtub. Right. Um, it’s also interesting to me that you have those four different species that you really focus on dogs, horses, birds and cats, since those are the most common companion animals. I’m guessing that these different species have different types of music, different frequencies, different decibel levels that are calming to them. Is that right?

Janet Marlow: [00:10:10] Yeah. So every. So the approach is different. So I just want to tie up a loose end in my conversation. So after I had gotten all those research studies, it occurred to me that I needed to approach each species differently in terms of what instruments I choose. You know, what is it that you know, a dog and a cat would like as opposed to a horse? And also what is different about a bird? So they’re all different. That’s why I invented species specific music. So a dog. Um, a dog and a cat they prefer. Now, this is observational and also biometrically proven. They prefer long sustained phrases. And I always like to use this image. It’s like putting, you know, just thinking you’re drifting in a canoe down a gentle river and it’s just going on in this very consistent way. And that’s what they like. Dogs and cats like consistency in their environment. They do not like shots of volume. If you’ve ever dropped a pot in a kitchen and you’ve seen your cat completely, you know, like a Disney cartoon, you know, spread its legs out and hightail it out of there. Um, and that’s what they prefer. So when I compose for dogs and cats, since cats hear higher frequencies and so the comfort range is a little bit higher, I actually have I compose in a higher register but still maintaining these long sustained phrases. And it’s amazing to see when one puts on the pet acoustics music how they immediately release muscle tension, just like they did all those years ago when I started playing live for my pets.

Janet Marlow: [00:11:57] And this is really where animals thrive. They need that sense of relaxation for health to release muscle tension, to lower their pulse rate, to have a higher HRV, which is the heart rate variability, which is a sign of health and less stress. And we’ve also determined cortisol levels because the cortisol hormone is the stress hormone. And if it’s low, then they’re not stressed. And so all of these things have been scientifically proven. Horses are rhythmic creatures, so they walk in two, four, three, four and four four time. And so they prefer short melodies, very rhythmic music. And the music that I composed for them fits within their comfort frequency and decibel range. Um, birds. The determination of bird hearing has not been conclusive. So I never say that I’m addressing their hearing range. But many people who buy birds or adopt birds have them for a very long time and they’re very emotional and they’re very dependent on their on their people, but very often they’re left without communication during the day for eight hours, they’re in a cage, in a kitchen somewhere, and there’s no call and response and there’s no other there’s no nature sounds. So in my music I put in calming music, but I also put in nature sounds and sounds of other birds that they can speak to because birds are the most musical and the most communicative of all animals.

Mindy Peterson: [00:13:49] Wow, that’s really fascinating to hear. Just that little summary of each of those four species and what seems to really resonate with them and calm them. I read that with horses in particular, they’re especially susceptible to stress and it can cause really expensive gastrointestinal problems. Ulcers. In fact, I saw 90% of racehorse racetrack horses have ulcers and 75 to 80% of performance horses do too, which I found really fascinating. My sister is an equestrian trainer, and so anything about related to horses really especially catches my attention. So when I saw that, I thought, Wow, and I know she’s really intrigued with how music can affect horses and is very interested in in using music. So I’m really excited to have her listen to this. I also. Oh, go.

Janet Marlow: [00:14:47] Ahead. Oh, I’d love to interject this because you just hit on a very rich part of my research. So several years ago, I worked with the University of Poland in. Lublin, and they did a two year study of my music for horses with 80 racehorses dividing them up into two groups, one with the music, one without the music. Arabian horses, which are very hypersensitive and high strung. Anyway, we just.

Mindy Peterson: [00:15:18] Kind of think of like when I think of horses, I think of just a very high strung, sort of jittery personality.

Janet Marlow: [00:15:26] Well, you know, they they need to they need to run. They need to move. They they’re you know, they’re ready to go, you know.

Mindy Peterson: [00:15:35] Yeah, They’re like the Ferraris of animals compared to, you know, like the Clydesdale or, you know, like.

Janet Marlow: [00:15:43] For sure. Well, anyway, the result of the study is that the music lowered their cortisol levels and they were more relaxed, especially prepping for races. And they won more races just by being having this balance. So so animals now humans need all of this. But since we’re focusing on animals, animals need balance. That is where their health is. They need activity, they need rest, and that is what they require. Now, do we provide all of that for them? Most of the time, But when it gets off that balance, they usually will they something physical will show up. I had a very interesting call a couple of months ago, and this woman had she she just started the phone call with. Thank you. Thank you, Thank you. And I said, how can I help you? And she said, my dog had narcolepsy. Oh, is that immediate? All of a sudden they go into sleep mode. Their brain just stops and they they fall over. And the dog was was hurting himself because he was wherever it was, you know, it was just falling over and banging into furniture. Et cetera. Et cetera. And she said she tried everything. She you know, a lot of veterinarians will recommend Prozac to put a dog into a calm state. But what it does is it changes their personality. And she was tired of doing that for her dog. So she just bought the pet tunes, canine music and started using it every day 24 seven for her dog. And when the dog felt tired, he just moved into a circle and fell asleep gently into his bed. And she was so grateful that I had changed her dog’s ability to to just have a normal life rather than and with something as simple and as elegant as music modified for canine hearing provided that ability for that dog. And she was grateful.

Mindy Peterson: [00:17:51] Wow. Well, that is fascinating. And that just answered a couple of the questions that I kind of had on the tip of my tongue. One was, what are some of the sort of like anecdotal experiences that people have had with this music? But then also, are there other behaviors that the music affects besides anxiety and stress? And you just gave really great examples that address both of those questions. I, I saw somewhere that over half of cat and dog owners do use some type of calming product, which includes medication, special collars, special shirts and other products. So obviously, this is definitely a real area of need. So any any other like success stories that you want to share from pet owners who have used pet acoustics or transformations or improvements or other areas of behavior that are affected by the the music and the products besides anxiety?

Janet Marlow: [00:18:53] Yes. Well, stress is the most is the foremost behavioral issue for animals, because we are not they’re not living their lives in full instinct. They’re living their lives in our world. And so they adjust to us. And if we don’t address their need for this balance that I talk about a lot, then issues occur. And then we you know, we have to bring up the subject of people, those wonderful, wonderful people that I love, that adopt dogs from shelters. And they have no idea what the previous upbringing is. And of course, dogs from shelters, not all of them, but many of them come with issues. And so just like, you know, they not being nurtured properly, they can be aggressive, you know, food aggressive, you know, they bark too much because I just want to say, many dogs that bark too much bark, not because they have an issue, but because. They’re not being responded to and being helped to understand their world. And there are a lot of different ways that can be addressed. But calming music is definitely a way. As soon as the dog feels safe, the safety is a big part of their behavior, their sense of behavior. You know, and going back to the psychoacoustics is really important because we hear sounds spatial conceptually. So in other words, our brains can understand that a fire truck that’s coming towards us is going to bypass us. And even though it’s going to be loud, it’s not a danger.

Janet Marlow: [00:20:39] And so we analyze that danger and we analyze sound instinctively and use our brainpower to evaluate. Not so with animals because that is their survival. They are just you know, it’s like think of it like we hear stereo and analyze it. They hear mono and they are fight or flight. And so people who have dogs that are aggressive on the street are probably hearing things that they’re not hearing that is triggering their aggression. I have a product that I that is very cool, which is the opposite of calming a dog, which is kind of peppy hip music with sounds of whistles and cookie jars and crunchy sounds and, you know, things that are in their lives that can grab their attention while you’re walking with them on the street. And it kind of creates like a little bubble between you and your dog so that you don’t have to so the dog doesn’t react aggressively towards other dogs. Or if a bicycle goes by, the frequencies of a bicycle spoke is so high that that can cause barking and aggression. So, you know, the world of sound is so invisible to us because we have a limitation to our precious animals and they are so amazing that they’re responding to sounds that we don’t hear. And I think that’s another key observation. If your pet has an issue, don’t think it’s just food or behavioral, but it could be a whole world of sound that you’re not experiencing.

Mindy Peterson: [00:22:26] Well, you just brought up a couple things during as you were speaking there that really, I think are key. And one of them is just how we do process as humans. We process sound so much differently than animals. We we process that analytically and we can recognize the difference between the drummer and the guitarist and other musicians and vocals. And, you know, we can analyze those things or we can analyze the sound of a first responder, whether it’s a police car or a fire truck that’s coming by and analyze it and recognize what that sound means. Right. And animals instead are just hearing, like you said, more in mono instead of stereo. It’s just kind of this everything combined as one unit and how it hits them in terms of that fight or flight instinct. So I think that’s really key. And then also what you you mentioned about our sound world as humans is so much more narrow than what animals are. And so they’re hearing so many more things that we’re not even aware of. And so taking that into consideration is is key also. And I think when you design tracks for different species, you start with what their range is of decibel level of frequency and kind of start there and make sure that the sounds in each track are in a range that is calming for that species. Is that right?

Janet Marlow: [00:23:55] Yes, Yes. So I have a I have a proprietary process that I go through digitally and so I definitely go into every note and modify it accordingly to each species. So I know the end result is going to put that animal into a state of calm. Now, I’ve been doing this for 25 years, so I started off with a cassette bringing it around to every friend and table and veterinarian, and now it’s all preloaded on an SD card into a Bluetooth speaker. And recently I progressed the concept to a multisensory speaker using light nature sounds and the music modified for dogs and cats. So dogs see hues of blues and cats see hues of greens and that is calming for them. So in a veterinarian setting, to have that light and the sounds and nature and all of that. Just permeating the environment. That really helps the animals tremendously.

Mindy Peterson: [00:25:04] Wow. So there you’re branching into like that full neuro aesthetic experience for affecting all the senses. That’s really amazing. Can you give us just like a quick overview of some of the different products that you have? Like I know you mentioned the music that and just sound mix that you have that can be used to almost create a bubble around the animal and its its walker, its human walker. Is that what does that product look like? I mean, is it something that the the human. Oh yeah. Every year and it like the human and the dog can hear it or like what does that look like.

Janet Marlow: [00:25:39] Yeah yeah it’s a preloaded into a portable Bluetooth speaker that can be clipped onto a leash. And that’s enough for the dog to hear because remember, they hear twice as much as we do.

Mindy Peterson: [00:25:53] So the in that example is that something that the dog is hearing. But the humans are not hearing.

Janet Marlow: [00:26:00] The dog and the human are both hearing it at the same. Yeah and it’s great for the human gets them going. And so, you know, for people who may jog or walk in a city, it’s really great for them and their dog. So we have music, pet tunes, canine, feline, avian and equine. So they’re all preloaded in different colored speakers. And that’s the Pet Tune series. I also have a collar device that’s designed for thunderstorms and fireworks for dogs called the Ultra Calmer. I have the Pet Tunes Pro, which just came out this year, which is the multisensory speaker with light nature sounds and music for dogs and cats. And then we have a series of SD cards which are additional music tracks to mix and match because humans need variety. Dogs and cats and horses kind of need variety. Not so much, but have music interspersed with just nature sounds that I recorded myself. As a matter of fact, I was trying to record sounds of of a stream and I was looking all around the Internet for something that I liked. And I was frustrated and I said, I’ll just take my dog for a walk. In the meantime, I just went, I live near Woods. So I went into the woods with my dog and sure enough, there were three streams that had come, you know, had occurred because of the rain. And it was like perfect. So, you know, I love that. I love that synchronicity. That’s really fun in life. Yeah. So have I have canine comm, SD cards, feline calm. So they’re all additional. It’s the most vast collection of music for animals anywhere. And where I have to say, we are number one. So I’m very proud of my work and we’ll continue as long as I can.

Mindy Peterson: [00:27:56] Wonderful. And I’m just going to point out, too, that your scientific studies are peer reviewed and published in veterinary science publications. So this is definitely something that has a lot of science to back it up. Yes. Yes. Where is actually before I ask that question, tell us a little bit about your books, too, and then I want you to tell us where all of these products and books are available. I’ve written Zen Dog, which I think is for adults, and then also a kids book. Dogs and cats hear much, much more.

Janet Marlow: [00:28:24] Oh, yes, I have. Zen Dog was published by Barnes and Noble and that was a big hit and sold out. And then the kids book is available online. It’s free and it’s it’s for children to to learn about exactly what I was talking about for adults you know all about sound and where it comes from and vibrations and how it affects a dog and a cat so that they become better. They grow up to be great pet parents. And then I wrote a book that’s on Amazon called What Dogs Here and it’s really the first concise book on the science of canine hearing and how it affects their behavior with many, many tips on how to help your dog from puppy to senior. And one other thing that this is also free and it’s on my website pet acoustics.com is a is the first free home pet hearing test because we really didn’t have anything except for jingling keys behind their ears to see if they turned around. Or you can take your dog to a special veterinarian for $350 and have the sensors put on. That’s very complicated. So it’s just a series of frequency and you can observe your dog or your cat and you get a email printout of the results and you can share that with your veterinarian because we are reactive to our pets instead of preventative. So you have to expect that your senior dog or cat will lose. Some of its hearing, if not all of its hearing. And it just depends on where and when that happens. And so the book talks about that. But the pet hearing test is really, really a cool contribution.

Mindy Peterson: [00:30:11] Yeah, sounds like it is. One fun fact that caught my attention is one of your books was endorsed by Mary Pope Osborne, who’s the author of The Magic Tree House series. And when I saw her name, I’m like, oh my goodness, That takes me back to my kids, you know, elementary years because they just devoured those books. So it sounds like she’s a friend of yours and a big fan.

Janet Marlow: [00:30:32] She’s a very good friend of mine. And when I started doing this years ago and Mary and I talked and Mary is just. She’s one of my heroes. She’s just such a great person. And she said, you know, Janet, you should do something universal. And and that’s what that was when I was making that transition over from humans to animals. And and she’s been a great support to me.

Mindy Peterson: [00:30:59] Oh, cool. Well, it sounds like the best place for listeners to go to learn more and find pet acoustic products. Is the website is it pet acoustics.com.

Janet Marlow: [00:31:09] Acoustics.com. Yes. Lots of information. I write blogs and there’s lots of information there and all our products are available. And somebody asked me what do you get when people buy from your website? And I say me. So if they have any issues or anything or want to just, you know, get some advice, I’m available.

Mindy Peterson: [00:31:32] Wonderful. Well, I will have lots of links in the show notes, as always, for sure, to the website and maybe some specific links to your blog and other pages within your website that we’ve mentioned, like maybe links to your books and things like that. As you know, I ask all my guests to close out our conversation with a musical, ending a coda by sharing a song or story about a moment that music enhanced your life. And I’m thrilled with the little sampler that you provided for us to listen to as the coda. Can you just introduce that and explain to listeners what they’re going to hear next?

Janet Marlow: [00:32:10] Well, bring your dog or cat over to the program and watch them relax. Even just this small sampler of the pet tunes music, because animals get it. And I always say that if you follow the heart of an animal, you will find a better world.

Mindy Peterson: [00:32:29] I love that. And this is the sampler of the canine music, is that right?

Janet Marlow: [00:32:34] A sampler of the canine music. And it also relaxes humans as well. So that is a great plus.

Mindy Peterson: [00:32:40] Yes. Extra bonus there. Love it. So here is a sampler of the Pet Acoustics canine music.

Transcribed by Sonix.ai