Most of us love to listen to music, and it often has the power to affect our emotions. But what about our dogs? Do dogs like music, too? Does music have the potential to calm, excite, or soothe them?
Find out everything you need to know about whether or not dogs appreciate music in the same way that we do. We’ve also included some advice on how to choose the tunes that may have the best effect on your dog’s behavior.
Can Dogs Hear Music?
With a far better sense of hearing than us humans, dogs can definitely hear music. Dogs’ hearing is roughly four times better than ours. They can also detect sounds at much higher frequencies. While we can hear sounds in the range from 20 to 20,000 hertz (Hz), dogs can hear from 40 to 65,000 Hz.
Most music we listen to ranges from roughly 16 Hz (the lowest bass notes of a pipe organ) to 4,000 Hz (the highest note on a piano) so we can be confident that dogs hear music in a similar way.
Do Dogs Like Music?
From what we know already, it does seem that most dogs like listening to music. “Like humans, there will be individual differences between how dogs react to music,” says Kayla Fratt, the founder of Journey Dog Training and certified dog behavior consultant. “Generally, studies point to the idea that music can help soothe dogs and get them to relax.”
Dogs certainly do seem to like certain types of music, with some styles calming them down and others encouraging them to bark or move about. We don’t yet know if specific breeds enjoy music more than others.
The best way to work out if your dog likes music is to try playing them some tunes and taking a note of how they react! If your dog does seem to have a positive reaction and likes listening to music, keep using it as an enrichment tool.
Best Music for Dogs
What kind of music do dogs like best? Fratt tells us that when it comes to the type of music pet parents play for their dogs, “classical is generally considered the most soothing music for dogs” and this is backed up by scientific research.
A review of how dogs respond to different styles of music found that as a general rule, most dogs generally seem to prefer classical music. When this style of music is played, dogs spend more time lying down and resting, and less time barking. On the other hand, when heavy metal is played, dogs seem to spend more time barking, and their behavior becomes more nervous. Pop music didn’t seem to have any effect on their behavior.
Another study found that while dogs initially respond favorably to classical music, over time they seem to prefer reggae and soft rock. These genres had the most positive effects on behavior in more long-term studies. Stress levels decreased and dogs spent the most time lying down when listening to these two styles of music.
Some other studies found no effect of music on dog behavior, but did discover that classical music had a calming effect on pet parents during veterinary visits!
While not strictly music, researchers have also found that playing audiobooks can encourage dogs to spend time resting — interestingly the effects were greater than any of the musical genres, including classical, reggae, and soft rock.
What about music designed specifically for dogs? You can find psychoacoustically designed playlists for dogs, containing simplified classical arrangements designed to soothe and calm your pet.
Some of these playlists also contain background noises like fireworks, thunderstorms, or city sounds. These playlists are specifically designed to be used as part of a training protocol designed to desensitize dogs with phobias of specific sounds.
You can even ask your Amazon smart speaker to play Comfort My Dog, a playlist designed to help your dog relax.
Tips for Playing Music for Dogs
If you’re keen to play some music for your dog, check out our top tips below.
Choose Something Soothing
Classical music is generally considered the most relaxing type of music to play for your dog. While classical music does seem to include many sounds dogs love, remember that not all classical music is soothing! Simplified classical arrangements with just a few instruments and no vocal accompaniments are a good place to start. When you first start playing music for your dog, stay at home and keep an eye on their general body language. If their response is positive, you might then decide to keep music playing when your dog is home alone.
Switch Things Up
Some studies also seem to show that the positive effects of music can decrease as dogs become used to a specific type of music over time. So, keep things interesting and remember to switch between different playlists! If your dog doesn’t seem to show any specific positive response to classical music, you can try reggae and soft rock as your next options.
Don’t Leave the TV On
Some pet parents might decide to leave the TV on for their dogs, but that won’t necessarily have the same effect as music. “Given how unpredictable TV is, it’s likely classical music is a better choice,” Fratt notes. “Slamming doors, shouting people, fight scenes, or animals on TV all suggest it would be less soothing for dogs than classical music.”
Talk to a Behaviorist
If you’re using music as a way of creating calming noises to help drown out fireworks, traffic, or other sounds that make your dog stressed or anxious, it’s probably a good idea to speak to a behaviorist as well.
“Music can be a supplement to a variety of training plans, it likely has a very marginal benefit,” says Fratt. “I might suggest it as white noise to help dogs relax and get used to apartments or other situations, but on its own, music won’t cure anxiety.”