Stay Tuned: Do Dogs Like Music?

Do dogs like music – fact or fiction?

The human benefits of listening to music have been well researched and documented. Among others, music’s therapeutic properties include lowering blood pressure, heart rates, and anxiety levels. All are proof that it pays to play.

But what about dogs? Do dogs respond to music in the same way humans do?

Given the positive health outcomes for people, doggy music has seen a surge of interest and research among veterinary professionals. Music therapy, it turns out, can be an effective behavioural enrichment tool for dogs. Not only can music improve immediate and short-term mental health, but it can also boost dogs’ long-term immune functions, too.

King Charles Spaniel dog and thought bubble on do dogs like music?

Music for dogs?

As vets, we’re often asked questions like:

  • Should I leave music on for my dog when I’m not home?
  • What is soothing music for dogs?
  • What songs do dogs like to hear?

Much to pet parents’ disappointment, the answer to the question of ‘do dogs like music?’ is almost always it depends.

Here’s why:

Like humans, different dogs may have different musical preferences. Researchers have found that physical differences among breeds—things like head shape and distance between ears—may alter how a dog perceives and responds to music.

The best way to find out what your dog digs are to sample different genres and gauge their reaction. Contrary to popular belief, viral videos of dogs “singing along” doesn’t necessarily mean they’re enjoying themselves. Sometimes these reactions stem from agitation or pent-up energy (the total opposite of relaxation).

What’s the best calming music for dogs?

EXPERT TIP: Your dog may or may not put on a show for you when you’re in the room. To see how they really feel, try recording your dog when they’re alone and listening to music.

Classical music for dogs has far and away proven to be the top genre of dog-calming music, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only one. Studies have been carried out with reggae, soft rock, heavy metal, and pop, but the scales always seem to tip in favour of classical composers like Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach.

What your dog hears when listening to music

Did you know that dogs hear much better than humans do? Their ears are like little satellite dishes, picking up on sounds near and far. Unless your dog suffers from hearing loss, if you think your dog isn’t listening… think again. (You just might be a victim of selective attention.)

What about sounds only dogs can hear?

The average hearing range for humans is 20 Hz up to 19,000 while some dogs more than double that.

The dog hearing range is 15 Hz up to 65,000 Hz with hearing best at around 4,000 Hz. Because dogs have moveable pinnae – aka the cute external part of their ears – they are better able to locate the source of sounds. 

Dogs’ superpower hearing can be both an advantage (you’ll always have a furry friend keeping an ear out for you) and a disadvantage (particularly if they’re anxious type).

The long and short of it is that listening to music is scientifically proven to help keep dogs calm. Music has even helped regulate dogs’ heartbeats by improving heart rate variability or HRV. By pushing play, you’re supporting your dog’s health and wellbeing!

A dog lying outside with his one ear up listening to calming music for dogs

White, brown and pink noise can be used as soothing music for dogs or as a replacement for anxiety music for dogs. Just like with music, the effect of these noises depends on the dog and the environment is just as important. In more stressful environments, like an unexpected trip to the vet clinic, these sounds may not be soothing enough. However, at home they may be just what your pup needs to drown out startling sounds. If you are looking for some creative ways to sooth your dog you can always look into purchasing something like a sound machine.

When to play relaxing music for dogs

EXPERT TIP: If your dog struggles with separation anxiety, make a point not to only push play on your dog’s favourite playlist when it’s time for you to go. This may cause your dog to associate that music with separation or abandonment, making it a stress-inducer instead of a stress-reliever. The puppy eyes and sad whimpers are heartbreaking enough!

There are many scenarios when the sound of music will put your pup at ease. Playing calming music for dogs has been found to benefit their overall well-being by lowering respiratory rates, reducing stress levels, muffling unfamiliar and sometimes triggering sounds from outside, and providing a temporary sense of companionship until the two of you are together again. In general, start playing calming tunes 20 minutes before a stressful scenario to help mask noises and promote relaxation.

Perfect scenarios for calming music for dogs

  • During car rides
  • When you’re out of the house and your dog is alone (crated or not), even if it’s only for a short period of time
  • Immediately after welcoming a new puppy or dog into your family
  • During fireworks or thunderstorms
  • Helping a restless or overtired dog catch some zzz’s

We recommend playing calming music for dogs at least 1 hour a day to help promote relaxation and to help stimulate their senses. In older dogs with cognitive dysfunction or doggy dementia, this may not only ease their anxiety but could also help encourage them to stay engaged with their environment, you and your family. Remember to switch it up and always give your dog the option of quiet time. After 2 days of the same music or noise they could become accustomed to it and by day 7, completely lose its’ calming benefits. 

Do dogs watch TV?

We’ve all seen those cute videos of dogs cocking their heads as they acknowledge movements or animal sounds from the TV. As television technology improves with high-definition capabilities and sharper screens, animal behaviouralists continue to explore the impacts on our furry friends. Dogs, like us, have personalized preferences when tuning into their surroundings – just like how our vet-curated Waggle Mail boxes are personally curated towards each unique dog.

Be aware that with leaving the tube on with mutt-see categories that you can’t always control what is played or the sources of sound. So just like you might child-proof a TV show, make sure to pup-proof your selected channel carefully. Look for slower tempos or even single sourced sounds, like a piano without any backup instruments. DOGTV is a channel made specifically for dogs and may be something that your pup can get into.

Doggy playlist: keep calm and play on

To get you started, we’ve curated a dog-friendly playlist filled with calm, relaxing Music for Dogs. Check it out on Spotify and let us know what you think!

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