What Kind of Music Do Dogs Like?

If you’ve ever seen your dog change its behavior when music plays, you’re not alone. Whether they howl, bark, move about, or relax, there’s a reason behind these reactions that we’ll explore today.

Research shows dogs are sensitive to music. They often react to sounds, assuming or changing behaviors some may see as funny or irrelevant.

Things to know about Dogs and Music

  • Dogs react to different music genres: Classical music tends to calm them, while metal can agitate them.
  • Music can soothe anxiety: Playing music during stressful events like thunderstorms or vet visits can help ease a dog’s anxiety.
  • Volume matters: Since dogs have sensitive hearing, play music at a low to medium volume to avoid causing stress.
  • Individual preferences: Every dog has unique tastes, so experiment with different genres and volumes to find what they enjoy most.
  • Howling as communication: Dogs may howl along to music as it reminds them of their natural form of musical communication.

Understanding how your dog reacts to music and how different songs, genres, and styles influence their well-being and behavior is important. This way, you’ll avoid unnecessary stress and could even make them happier.

I’ll explore research on the relationship between dogs and music. How do they react to various music genres? How does music affect their behavior? And, surprisingly, can they create music? Let’s find out!

A dog’s perception of sound

At two weeks old, puppies start hearing, but their ears fully develop around four weeks later. Dogs can then hear twice as many frequencies as humans. Interestingly, dogs have a strong sense of pitch. Richard Wagner even acknowledged this in his Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Peps, who was often in his studio.

Peps had such a fine ear that his owner Wagner would watch his reactions to adjust passages in his compositions. The German composer noticed the dog reacted differently based on the musical key, inspiring him to assign different keys to various concepts and emotions in an opera.

As Wagner realized, dogs form a strong bond with music and sounds. They aren’t just passive listeners; they can become active performers too.

Popular Music to help calm and relax dogs

This 15-hour music video on YouTube is highly popular for relaxing dogs effectively!

Spotify Pets Playlists

Spotify found that “71% of pet owners surveyed play music for their pets”. They released playlists customized for your pets. Check it out at pets.byspotify.com. Pick your pet type, add some personality traits, and enjoy!

The howling effect

dog-howling

In 1980, Kirk Nurock, a composer, pianist, and arranger, performed “Howl,” a unique choral piece for twenty human voices and three dogs. Nurock, who has worked with artists like Judy Collins, Dizzy Gillespie, Leonard Bernstein, and Bette Midler, included pets in a musical score for the first time in the history of music.

The composer had a strong interest in the relationship between animals and music. In 1983, he composed the Sonata for Piano and Dog. A year later, he performed Expedition with a jazz trio and a Siberian Husky.

Research shows that dogs have a good ear for music. Howling serves as a complex communication tool involving the emission and recognition of tones and pitches. This musical quality in their howling may reveal specific emotions or serve social functions within groups.

Wolves howl to gather their pack and strengthen group identity. They can adjust pitches to “harmonize” with others, showing that canines have an acute sense of pitch.

What humans identify as different kinds of barking follow precise patterns. A typical howl starts with a high pitch, descends to the main tone, and ends on a lower note.

Humans often see this type of musical communication as sad or mournful. However, while howling in a domestic dog can signal loneliness and isolation, this isn’t always true.

So, if howling is a means of communication for dogs, why does my puppy “sing” along to my Spotify playlist?

Music can either remind your dog of canine communication or simply entice or disturb them.

Sounds that stimulate the howling effect

Reed instruments and medium to high-pitched frequencies often make dogs howl, echoing their natural communication. Violins, human voices, and even sirens can trigger this response with their long, high notes.

A study in the Harp Therapy Journal found the sound of harps particularly calming for dogs, easing their anxiety and stress.

Now that I’ve explained how dogs can create sounds and even produce music, let’s explore how the tunes we play on our speakers impact their behavior and well-being.

Dogs musical tastes – classical music vs. metal

One often-quoted study about dogs and music is by Deborah Wells at Queens University in Belfast. She played various types of music to shelter dogs and noted their behavioral changes.

Classical and metal music had the most significant effect on dogs, while regular pop songs, neither calming nor aggressive, didn’t change their mood or behavior much.

With classical music, dogs bark less and often calm down to nap. Metal songs, however, make them agitated and aggressive, often causing increased body shaking, a sign of stress.

metal-music

Research in Scotland by the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals and the University of Glasgow found that dogs enjoy a wider range of music. Researchers noticed that soft rock and reggae have a calming effect on them.

These results don’t surprise me since humans often have similar psychological reactions to various music styles. It’s astonishing to see how sensitive and close our pets can be to us.

How music can help dogs

Vets and psychologists found that soothing music calms dogs. They now advise owners to play it during stressful moments.

During violent thunderstorms, firecrackers, or stressful vet visits, puppies can get really shaken. Playing a classical music playlist can be an excellent way to calm them down and help them through it.

Music can help when you need to leave your dog alone, as it’s a great way to ease their separation anxiety.

How loud should the music be?

Dogs have more sensitive ears. What sounds medium to us might be too loud for them. Dog owners should play music at a low-mid level when their pooch is around.

To find the right sound level, watch your dog for signs of stress, like shaking or barking. If you see these, lower the volume and check for any change in their reaction.

In conclusion, dogs have unique tastes and personalities, much like humans. The study results might not match your dog’s preferences. Just test various songs, music genres, and volume levels to find what benefits your puppy the most.

Sources:

https://medium.com/all-things-picardy/the-effect-of-music-on-dogs-an-examination-7954aa5def58
https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/canine-corner/201204/do-dogs-have-musical-sense
https://pets.thenest.com/different-types-music-affect-dogs-behavior-12003.html
https://blog.healthypets.com/informative/music-and-its-effect-on-your-dog/
https://petspasandsuites.com/8-dog-separation-anxiety-solutions-stressed-dog/

Brian Clark

Brian Clark

I’ve been a writer with Musician Wave for six years, turning my 17-year journey as a multi-instrumentalist and music producer into insightful news, tutorials, reviews, and features.

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