Everyone has their preferred genre of music. Some like to spend a quiet evening listening to classical while others prefer jumping into a mosh pit at a rock concert. Still, others want to sing about their girlfriend and truck in a country song and some want to hear a boy band serenading them. Humans care a great deal about music and can go to extremes to demonstrate it, but what about dogs? Does your dog share your love of music? More often than not, most dogs seem indifferent to the tunes they hear and are not fans of music like humans are.
The Root of the Behavior
A dog’s dislike or disinterest in music is one of those situations that stem from the differences between dogs and humans. Most music is written by humans, for humans, and a composer often is targeting emotions or experiences. Humans relate to music based on the beat and tone and also connect the music to an emotion, such as happy or heartbroken. Humans have a strong ability to distinguish sounds, notes, and appreciate the complexity behind a piece of music and hear harmony when it is played. Dogs and humans are different, so absorbing music in this way doesn’t work for a dog. They hear different pitches and their heartbeats follow different rhythms, and as a result, dogs do not seem interested in music. Studies have been done surrounding music and dogs. One study tried to find if dogs preferred one genre over another. The study played classical music and heavy metal music for dogs and watched their reactions to each. They found that dogs are more relaxed when listening to classical music than they are when listening to heavy metal, which is similar to how humans react to these genres.
Another study threw in pop music, which dogs had little or no reaction to. Your dog can make music of his own by howling with his friends. In fact, dog howls used to be more common and were used to communicate with other dogs. If a dog howls, it can be a sign of loneliness. However, when accompanying one another, the dogs join in at different pitches, which sounds mournful and dissident to the human ear, but to a dog, it sounds just right. He does not want his voice to blend in because he wants his presence in the pack known. Dogs might jump in with a howl when they hear a siren or piano because they think it is a howling occasion.
Encouraging the Behavior
Your dog not jamming along to your favorite tunes with you might hurt you as a music lover, but it’s nothing personal. He might just go about his business and not concern himself with the melodies and harmonies of classic rock. There’s nothing wrong with him not liking music and it’s not doing any damage, except maybe to a musician’s ego. Keep playing your tunes in the house, however, if you have an anxious or stressed dog, perhaps refrain from playing heavy metal around him. The studies have proven it agitates dogs so playing it could make him uncomfortable. If you need to relax him, play some classical, which is thought to calm dogs in kennels down.
Many people have been determined to find what sounds dogs like and have created music that way. If you really want your dog to listen and enjoy music, try listening to some of Richard Wagner’s work. Wagner was a German composer who is well-known for his operas. Wagner kept his dog nearby when he composed and would watch for reactions, sometimes a tail wag or other excited behaviors. Wagner’s dog most likely did not determine the great pieces of his time, but perhaps this music will speak to your pup. If your dog just doesn’t take to music and clearly protests, don’t make him listen to it. Keep it at a normal volume or wear headphones if it upsets him and accept that your four-legged friend isn’t going to love music with you.
Other Solutions and Considerations
A dog disinterested in music is normal and fine, but if you suspect he cannot hear the music or other sounds, take him to the vet. A dog losing his hearing might not respond to squeaky toys, his name, whistles, or other sounds. Dogs who acquire deafness due to age usually do so over time, so you may not even realize it’s happening. If a dog experiences a trauma, infection, or a blockage, he can acquire deafness, too. Injury and repeated exposure to loud sounds could be a cause for acquired deafness. If you’re worried about your dog, call the vet. He can determine if it is something that needs to be removed from the ear canal, an infection that needs treatment, or if your dog should be assessed for a hearing aide.
You might want to sing “Puptown Girl” to your dog all day, but chances are, he doesn’t want to hear it. Consider it his loss, and if he starts to howl, know he’s doing his form of jamming with his friends. And when you beg him to stop, think of all the times you made him listen to music that he didn’t like.
Written by a Miniature Yorkie lover Stephanie Molkentin
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 03/23/2018, edited: 01/30/2020