No doubt you have seen videos on the internet of dogs seemingly bopping along to their favorite “jam.” Perhaps you’ve even witnessed your dog bursting into a serenade when a particular song comes on the radio, or someone sits at the piano to play a tune. Without question, dogs do respond to music. But do they actually like it?
Is it possible your pooch loves Mozart?
Evidence points to the likelihood that, yes, dogs do like music indeed. However, the truth is a little more nuanced than that. Though all music will elicit some response in your dog, there are some styles your dog likes, and others that simply aren’t his cup of tea. In this respect, our dogs are not that different from us. We too prefer certain genres over others. But since a dog is not able to discern between the latest country song and a Brahms requiem, what is it that makes your dog favor certain music over others?
Music affects the nervous system of your dog. Research has proven that slower, less complicated pieces of music which feature more moderate tones of the musical scale have a calming effect on a dog’s nervous system. These types of music can help a dog to unwind and cope more efficiently with stress. In sharp contrast to this is music which contains high pitches, complex rhythmic patterns, and more lively tempos. This type of music increases a dog’s heart rate, causing the nervous system to become heightened.
A 2002 study titled “Animal Welfare” studied behavior trends on shelter dogs and the influence different kinds of music had on their overall demeanor. The results showed that the dogs experienced the most relaxed response when classical music was played. Though none of the dogs showed any particular like or dislike for pop or country music, heavy metal was greeted with vigorous howls and relentless barking.
Can playing music help your dog?
Just as certain types of music may have a soothing effect on you, so too does your dog experience relief and comfort when his favorite tunes come on. With this in mind, is it possible to use music to help your dog feel more relaxed?
Music therapy has enjoyed tremendous popularity as a treatment for people suffering from anxiety disorders and excessive stress. It is entirely possible that the right kind of music could help your dog to unwind as well. If you find that Fido feels particularly anxious before a thunderstorm or on a night when fireworks are imminent, turning up the Beethoven might be just what the doctor ordered!
But it’s not just anxious reactions that music can help to alleviate in our dogs. Dogs who suffer from overexuberance are often settled when classical music is played. Respected dog trainer Brad Waggoner relates that, “Studies show that classical music has a calming effect on most dogs and heavy metal elicits stress-related behavior.” Does this mean that training efforts could be aided by the use of your dog’s favorite tunes? Absolutely! Music has the potential to frame your dog’s mind for learning. It has been asserted that the use of brain-friendly music such as Bach or Mozart increases a dog’s ability to assimilate and retain new information. Experts have long believed that a daily dose of Mozart could help make you smarter and even recommend playing classical music to babies in their infancy to help foster brain development.
Many breeders also like to make use of music to help puppies become accustomed to their new world. The use of “Puppy Sounds” CDs and online recordings can help a baby dog to become desensitized to ordinary household noises such as the hairdryer, vacuum cleaner, or even a very loud TV. Other sounds can be incorporated as well including airplanes taking off, dogs barking, children playing, and even thunder and lightning or fireworks going off! The more a young dog is exposed to normally occurring noises, the better the dog’s chance of becoming familiar with them. This sets a puppy up well for the remainder of his life as he will grow into a well-adjusted pup who approaches new things with confidence instead of shrinking away in fear.
How to get your pup used to music
If you think you might like to incorporate some music time into your dog’s daily routine, there are some simple steps that you can follow. First of all, you will need to realize that just because YOU like a song doesn’t mean your dog will. Unfortunately, your playlist and your dog’s might be entirely different. If so, a good pair of headphones will do the trick. You can enjoy your tunes, and Fido can enjoy his at precisely the same time.
To get started with your pooch’s period of musical relaxation, you will need to wait for the correct timing. When your dog is already in a calm state and resting comfortably, you can put on a gentle, quiet classical piece such as Handel’s Air on the G String or Pachelbel’s Canon in D. Both of these pieces make use of a limited number of instruments and remain at low pitch points. The music progresses softly and calmly, smoothing your dog’s ruffled feathers as tenderly as a warm breeze on a hot day. This is precisely the type of atmosphere you want for your dog to reap the maximum benefits from your musical selection.
You will know right away what effect your choice of music has had on your dog. If Fido starts to drift off to la-la land, you will know you made an excellent selection. Job well done! But how do you know if the song you chose didn’t rank in Fido’s Top 5? A dog who is not enjoying a piece of music may become twitchy or restless, an indication that they are feeling troubled or stressed. A change of music might be just what is needed to help Fido get settled in for the night.
Does my dog love the music if he howls along?
Many owners wonder if their dog howls in response to a tune if it is Fido’s way of singing along. Though we cannot definitively say this is not the case, it is unlikely. Dogs typically respond to loud music for one of two reasons. Experts say that some dogs may howl in response to a tune as a means to communicate. This could be a throwback to your pooch’s ancestry when pack members made use of howling to communicate with one another. Your pup might be trying to send you a message as his pack leader. It could be to turn up the radio…or to turn it off. It’s hard to tell. More likely is the thought that something within the song is reminiscent of a wolf or dog cry, and your dog is simply trying to say hello.
Alternatively, since high pitches can be exceptionally painful for your dog’s very sensitive hearing, your dog might be howling because his ears hurt! However, unless the music is exceptionally loud or frequently escalates into the upper registers of the scale, it is unlikely your dog is experiencing pain. Still, when in doubt, simply try a different song! Before long you will be able to build an accurate playlist of songs sure to send a very contented Fido off to dreamland.
Do dogs like music?
Yes, they do! However, they don’t like all music. Why not spend some quality time with your pooch building him his own personal playlist today?