What is a dog capable of hearing? Do they understand what they hear? How does a dog's hearing work? Do you ever wonder what your dog is experiencing during one of your outings or games of fetch? Can dogs hear music?
Signs that a Dog is Hearing Music
As with other sounds, dogs often form associations between songs and events. This is how they form memories. Sounds help them predict what happens next, and dogs love to be prepared for the next thing.
So, if you play a song to go along with happy events, you'll notice that your dog gets excited when that song comes on. They may start panting excitedly, barking, or jumping up in excitement when they hear that song.
Research has shown that many dogs react to music according to the tone of the music, just as humans do. For example, when dogs hear heavy metal, they will become frustrated and start barking. Classical music, on the other hand, has a much different effect on dogs. This genre produces feelings of peace and calm within dogs, just like it frequently does with humans. You'll notice your dog possibly barking less and being less rambunctious.
When dogs hear normal conversation and typical pop music, they usually don't have much reaction. Dogs are quite aware of their surroundings at all times, but there are some sounds they are used to or not phased by. In these moments, you may notice that your dog will perk their ears up for a moment, only to return to their nap or play session.
- Jumping up
- Ears up
- Appearing less anxious
- Stopping what they are doing to listen
- Being quiet
History of Dogs Hearing Music
These wolf ancestors actually had an incredible sense of smell, which remains in wolves today. While hearing is the second-best sense for both dogs and wolves, wolves still have a stronger ability to hear than dogs. Wolves can hear up to six miles away, and they can hear a wider range of frequencies than dogs.
There is a good reason that dogs don't have such a strong ability to hear; they don't need it as much as wolves do. Some hunting dogs have stronger hearing than others. However, ultimately, dogs just don't need to have such strong hearing.
But don't be fooled, dogs still have much better hearing than humans! Dogs can hear between 67 hertz and 45,000 hertz. Humans, on the other hand, can hear between 20 hertz and 20,000 hertz.
Today, dogs are capable of hearing very specific things. When dogs hear songs, they hear each instrument according to its frequency. That is why some songs affect them differently than others.
The Science of Dogs' Hearing
Dogs also have a whopping eighteen muscles in their ears, compared to humans who only have six ear muscles! Dogs use these powerful muscles to adjust their ears according to the sound they are hearing. When they are looking for something, they may adjust their ears in the direction of the noise they are hearing. When they hear a loud noise, their ears will perk straight up. These features were put in place thousands of years ago to help dogs be ready for anything.
Dogs also use their ability to associate sounds with events and moods to predict what is going to happen next. They can tell what a song means once they get to know it based on the environment when the song is played.
Training a Dog to React to Music
To train your dog to react to music, the first step is to start exposing them to music. In order to best teach your dog about your favorite music, it helps if your dog creates positive associations between the music you play and the experiences you are both having.
If you want your dog to react happily to happy songs, you can teach your dog to mimic your mood by simply acting happy and enjoying the music. Your dog will react to your reaction in a happy way. Over time, they will associate this music with the happy memories you form together when this music is playing.
If you want your dog to follow a command when a song plays, you can teach them the command while the song is playing and provide treats and positive praise when they respond in your desired way.
Some people can even train their dogs to dance to songs according to specific choreography! This takes consistent training, but it is definitely possible.
You can start training your dog to act specifically to music at any age. Starting at a younger age can be a bit easier, but dogs can learn new things all throughout their lives. The most important thing to remember is that training your dog should be a regular practice.
When training sessions end in hugs and a nice game of fetch, positive memories will foster an even stronger relationship between you and your pup. Dogs respond very well to positive reinforcement, while they do not respond as well to negative punishment. So, the best way to train them is by rewarding positive behavior and ignoring the negative behavior.
How to React When Your Dog Responds to Music:
Play the song regularly.
Play a game of fetch after the song is played.
Give positive praise.