Do dogs like music? It seems that they do! Dogs are affected by music and will react with behaviors like barking, howling, or even signs of relaxation.
But do dogs prefer a specific genre? And when do they like to listen to music the most? Read on to find out.
Can Dogs Hear Music?
It’s true that a dog’s ears are more sensitive than our own. So, they will be able to hear the songs that you play.
But, it also means they can hear at higher frequencies than we can, so when you listen to music with your dog around, it’s important to remember this.
Just like humans, certain types of music can calm your dog while others can hype them up. And, many dogs show preferences for certain types.
Do Dogs Like Music?
Perhaps the unsurprising answer to this question is yes! Dogs do enjoy music. And not only do they enjoy it, they have musical preferences unique to their own personalities!
Many people that play music for their pups notice changes in their behavior, which leads us to make assumptions about their feelings towards the music.
Reactions can include calm behavior, agitation, barking, howling, and more. In fact, howling is one of the most common ways that dogs react to music.
But, different dogs will react differently.
Dogs That Howl To Music
There are hundreds of videos online of dogs howling along to various songs. As soon as a certain song is played, owners see their dog leaping to their feet to join in with the singing!
Here is a video of a dog howling along to flute music, much to the delight of his giggling family members!
According to an article by Canine Corner’s Stanley Coren, dogs have a sense of pitch and enjoy “singing”. Although their idea of hitting a musical note may be much different to ours.
Whereas you may think that howling is a sign of pain, sadness, and agitation in a dog, that’s not always true.
Wolves, for example, howl deliberately at a pitch different to that of other wolves. By ensuring they are not in tune, their voices stand out. And dogs are known to howl in the same way.
This is quite different to singing to fit a particular tune as humans do.
According to Dr. Coren, the music that induces the most howling seems to be music ripe with wind instruments such as flutes. So, if your dog is howling along to some music that you’re playing, they may be communicating through their own type of ‘singing’!
A study conducted by Deborah Wells, a psychologist at Queen’s University, Belfast effectively showed that dogs behave differently when exposed to different genres of music.
But Wells isn’t the only person to investigate this.
Many studies support that certain types of music can help dogs feel more relaxed. But, one by Bowman (et al) has suggested that dogs can become habituated to certain types of music, meaning they can become accustomed to it and may stop responding as normal.
They suggest that auditory enrichment should be varied to reduce the chance of this. So, this means playing your pet different types of music that have the same relaxing effect!
But, what kind of music do dogs like?
What Kind of Music Do Dogs Like?
Wells’ study, mentioned above, looked at dog reactions to several different genres. In the study, shelter dogs who listened to heavy metal or grunge music began barking and showing signs of agitation.
On the other hand, when classical music was played, their moods shifted and they were much calmer and more relaxed. When the dogs were exposed to pop music like Britney Spears or played recordings of humans talking to one another, they had little to no reaction at all.
This theory that classical music is most relaxing for dogs has been supported by many other studies.
If you want your dog to simply relax and feel good, try playing him some Beethoven or Mozart. Here is a beautiful Husky enjoying (and singing along) to Bach.
Do Dogs Like Classical Music?
Studies have shown almost conclusively that most dogs enjoy classical songs. So, it’s a safe bet to play this genre for your dog when trying out their reaction to new music.
But, classical music isn’t the only genre that can have a positive impact on your dog’s behavior and mental state.
The Bowman (et al) study mentioned earlier acknowledges that dogs have mixed reactions to different types of music. So, look at your dog for cues as to whether or not they are enjoying the music you’re playing.
Bowman’s 2015 study found that soft rock and reggae genres were actually indicative of lowest stress levels in dogs studied, although all musical genres studied had a positive effect.
The Least Relaxing Genres
Just as some music can improve your dog’s mood, other types of music can have a negative effect on them.
One study by Deborah Wells showed that dogs who listened to loud, chaotic music like grunge or heavy metal displayed signs of agitation, stress, exhaustion, and anxiety.
Exposing your dog too long periods of music that causes him stress and anxiety can have a harmful effect on him and even cause aggression and depression.
When choosing a track for your dog, use your better judgment and remember, the calmer the better. If your dog begins to bark and starts looking agitated or a little amped up, your music choice may be too hyper for him and may be causing them anxiety.
Plus, if the music is too loud—even soft classical music your dog is sure to love—it may be harmful to their hearing and could cause them unnecessary stress.
Always play music at a comfortable level and if it seems loud to you, it’s probably even louder for your dog.
When Do Dogs Like To Listen To Music?
Have you ever found that when you’re anxious, a good song can help relieve your stress? The same is true for your dog.
Stress in pets can be caused by many things including long periods of time alone when you’re away at work, thunderstorms, firecrackers, and more.
My own dog shows anxiety when I’m getting ready to leave the house or when she realizes it’s bath time.
During these times, it can be good to incorporate a little bit of soft music to help her relax and to show her she is safe.
Studies have shown that we can train a conditioned emotional response to music in dogs.
In this study, dogs who listened to music with their owners were less stressed when left alone if this music was playing. So, it really can help to calm our dogs when we are away.
Music Dogs Like
We’ve already answered the question ‘what kind of music do dogs like?’, but finding the right tracks can be tricky. Luckily, we’ve got a list right here for you.
When choosing calming music for dogs, choose songs that are slower and softer. Here is a playlist with some lovely classical music for dogs to help them sleep.
There are many sources online where you can find specialized music dogs like. If you’re looking for music to reduce your dog’s anxiety, try these:
If you are looking for music to help your dog sleep, try these:
And last but not least, check out this fun compilation of dogs listening (and singing along) to music!
Do Dogs Like Music?
Since we now know that dogs and music go hand-in-hand, we should let them indulge!
The types of music that dogs like the most and react to will vary from one pet to the next. So, try out some different genres on your dog!
Just remember to keep the volumes pretty quiet and to turn it off if it makes your dog feel agitated.
Does your pooch like listening to music? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.
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References and Resources
- Wells, D. (et al), ‘The Influence of Auditory Stimulation on the Behaviour of Dogs Housed in a Rescue Shelter’, Animal Welfare (2002)
- Boone, A. & Quelch, V. ‘Effects of Harp Music Therapy on Canine Patients in the Veterinary Hospital Setting’, The Harp Therapy Journal (2003)
- Kogan, L. (et al) ‘Behavioral Effects of Auditory Stimulation on Kenneled Dogs’, Journal of Veterinary Behavior (2012)
- Bowman, A. (et al), ‘“Four Seasons” in an Animal Rescue Centre; Classical Music Reduces Environmental Stress in Kennelled Dogs’, Physiology & Behavior (2015)
- Wells, D. ‘A Review of Environmental Enrichment for Kenneled Dogs’, Canis Familiaris. Applied Animal Behaviour Science (2004)
- Fukuzawa, M. (et al), ‘More than Just a Word: Non-Semantic Command Variables Affect Obedience in the Domestic Dog’, Applied Animal Behavior Science (2005)
- Heffner, H. & Heffner, R. ‘Hearing Ranges of Laboratory Animals’, Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (2007)
- Amaya, V. (et al), ‘Effects of Olfactory and Auditory Enrichment on Behavior of Shelter Dogs’, Animals (2020)
- McDonald, C. & Zaki, S. ‘A Role for Classical Music in Veterinary Practice: Does Exposure to Classical Music Reduce Stress in Hospitalised Dogs?’, Australian Veterinary Journal (2020)
- Bowman, A. (et al), ‘The Effect of Different Genres of Music on the Stress Levels of Kennelled Dogs’, Physiology & Behavior (2017)
- Bernardini, L. & Niccolini, A. ‘Does Music Calm the Dog?’, Dog Behavior (2015)
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website