Many owners may wonder – do dogs like music? Should I leave the radio on when I leave from the leave the house?
While there isn’t a ton of research on the subject, some studies do seem to reveal that dogs can be relaxed by those classical tunes you leave on at home.
One study by Deborah Wells at Queens University was performed in which three different types of music were played to dogs in an animal shelter:
Heavy metal rock resulted in the dogs become agitated and barking. Pop music (such as Britney Spears) resulted in no discernible reaction. Audio recordings of human voices elicited a similar lack of response (which means living NPR on likely won’t do much for your pup).
However, classical music was a winner! Dogs listening to classical music appeared to be calmed by the dulcet tones – dogs barked less and would lay down or settle in place.
Classical music like that of Beethoven has been linked to de-stressing dogs in other studies as well. This is apparently due to the low frequencies and slower tempo of classical music.
The MSPCA where I’ve volunteered in the past regularly plays classical music to calm the canines and stop them from barking so much (making the adoption floor a much nicer place to visit for pup parents-to-be). Some trainers even testify to the power of music therapy to soothe stressed out dogs.
So go ahead, crank up the Mozart when you leave the house – your dog seems to like it! There are even entire YouTube channels dedicated to playing relaxing classical music just for your canine.
However, if you really want to play your pooch music he will love, it likely won’t be on any Top 40 Billboard playlist.
We know that dogs can be calmed by classical music – so does this mean we can create a puppy pump-up soundtrack? Not exactly.
Finding out what specific kind of music your canine enjoys is difficult – especially because as humans, we tend to project our own preferences onto our pets (but come on, how can my dog not love Fleetwood Mac as much as I do?).
Research has actually shown that dogs can have the capacity for music the way humans do. However, the way dogs hear music is very different from the way humans hear music.
Rather than paying attention to certain melodies or tunes, animals are especially interested in the beat and rhythm of music.
One research study done by an animal psychologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that animals enjoy different music depending on their species. Animals tend to like music with pitches, tones, and tempos that are familiar to their species.
Just as music with an extremely high pitch would hurt a human ear (or go completely undetected), dogs won’t enjoy certain frequencies.
Obviously, we all want music that we can actually understand, which means we seek out music that is in our acoustic and vocal range, as well as music that progresses at a tempo similar to our heartbeats!
For dogs, most human music tends to fall into that hard-to-understand frequency, since dog ranges can be pretty different from our own. Classical music is one of those rare genres that both humans and dogs can manage to enjoy.
In 2009, researchers were able to successfully compose a few songs specifically for monkeys. The songs used vocalizations that were 3 octaves higher than humans’, as well as shrill, high pitches that did not sound appealing to a human ear – however, the monkeys loved it!
So what about music for dogs – why can’t we create a mix tape just for them?
The problem with composing the perfect music for canines is that a dog’s vocal range and heart rate varies depending on the dog’s breed and size. This means that different dogs may have different music frequency ranges.
Large dogs like labs are thought to have vocal ranges that are very similar to adult male humans. This means it’s possible that your Labrador Retriever may be more interested in hearing this week’s viral hits than a Miniature Schnauzer.
Maybe that’s why this YouTube-famous Golden Retriever loves listening to his owner jam out!
Or why this pup can’t contain herself when Whitney Houston comes on!
Has your dog ever sung along to a favorite song, or been visibly calmed by a radio tune? Share your dog’s musical tastes in the comments below!
Meg Marrs is the Founder and Senior Editor at K9 of Mine. She is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! She loves iced coffee, hammocks, and puppy-cuddling!